In focus

In March 2014, the Commission launched a new and improved website. Over the years, the nature of the people visiting the website had changed, and we recognised that the site needed to better serve the needs of this changing audience.

The upgraded website was one of the initiatives of the Future Directions change program. The new site is easier for people without a legal or workplace relations background to use. Users are able to find the information they need more easily and the upgraded website is accessible on all devices, from smartphones to desktop computers. It also has a modern structure that is intuitive for our users who expect that our website will be as clever and creative as other websites they interact with on a day-to-day basis.

A changing audience

Over the years, there has been a shift in the kinds of matters coming before the Commission. In the past, the most common matters were collective disputes, which were brought by knowledgeable and experienced participants. Now, there are more individual matters where one or more of the parties are not familiar with the Commission and are self-represented.

“The old site was very much focused toward experienced practitioners—people who already knew quite a lot about the Fair Work Commission and the way it worked,” Chief Information Officer Kathryn Green said. “We’ve sought to make sure the new website better meets the needs of first-time users, the infrequent users—the people who aren’t necessarily familiar with the Commission and its processes.’’

New technologies

The site uses responsive technology, which means that the pages adapt depending on what type of device—smartphone, laptop, desktop computer, tablet—a person is using. It has been built using an open-source product called Drupal which offers the flexibility required to structure the site to meet the varied needs of its users.

The challenges

“There were some challenges along the way—there always are,” Ms Green said.

Creating the new website was a large project. More than 200 000 documents needed to be migrated from the old site to the new. Writing new, easy to understand content and rewriting existing content into plain English was a significant undertaking. This work is ongoing.

The launch of the new website was delayed for just over two months to make sure that the stakeholder feedback obtained during the test phase was actioned.

Where to next?

There has been positive feedback on the new site, however it is very much a work in progress.

The Commission continues to encourage feedback on the website and through this process we have identified further improvements to be made, particularly relating to how legal practitioners and other professionals access the various search functions. We will be undertaking further consultation as we continue to refine and improve the new site. We will also continue to update content in plain English style.