We have just released two new themes for the Common Web Platform (CWP), a platform as a service for New Zealand government sites. These themes help government agencies quickly get their sites up and running.
The themes act as the base for site functionality and design. They will become part of the downloadable package available for all CWP agencies in the next recipe release: 1.6.
Result of user feedback
Agencies on CWP are part of the “co-funded development pool” where they contribute to selecting what should be developed next using shared funds. The project of developing the new themes was a result of this selection process.
After the CWP team conducted user research, it became clear that agencies on the platform wanted to have themes that suited their different needs and could get them building or re-building their sites in minimal time.
The research also revealed that there are two very different audiences using the themes:
- Larger agencies with more development resources that handle major modifications and custom build their projects but that still want a base to build from that helps meet web accessibility standards.
- Smaller agencies that need a theme requiring little development effort with design assets built in.
We have developed the two themes that cater for these use cases:
- Starter theme: developer focused, suited for sites that require more customisation and a design applied with minimal restrictions.
- Wātea theme: includes more design elements than the Starter theme, suited for smaller agencies with smaller sites, smaller budgets and less developer involvement.
The new themes and accessibility
During the theme development process, accessibility has been a major aspect that was taken into account to meet the New Zealand Government Web Accessibility Standards 1.0 – the guidelines that aim to have all citizens of all capabilities able to access the online content. We involved feedback from the Blind Foundation to advise on accessibility. The theme name “Wātea”, which means “available, clear, open” in Te Reo Maori, also conveys the meaning of accessibility.
How to get the themes
The beta version of the themes is available to download now. As they are only at the beta stage, we do not recommend using them for the production sites. However, feel free to test them out and give us your feedback.
- CWP installer
- Starter theme
- Wātea theme
- Agency extensions: This module provides some added configuration and underlying functionality that allow agencies to adjust website functionality themselves, or to provide additional functionality that may not always be required for a CWP project.
The stable CWP 1.6 recipe release, which is recommended for production sites, is scheduled for May 2017.
Note: In 2018, CWP released a new theme, Wātea Plus.
As an extension of the Wātea theme, Wātea Plus introduces new functionality, allowing agencies to customise the look of their site with minimal input from developers, and better align the theme with their brand. Wātea Plus makes it easier to spin up a customised site on the Common Web Platform and, in conjunction with the subsites feature, agencies are now able to create a themed set of sites based on a colour palette.
There is a new area within the CMS where a site administrator can choose from a selection of fonts and colours to quickly and easily transform the appearance of their site. A palette of 12 accessible (AA) colours (plus white, light grey, dark grey, and black) that can be selected from the new Theme Settings screen. The default colour palette has been chosen to cover a broad spectrum of use-cases, but the feature is built with extensibility in mind, ensuring that developers can easily adjust options as required.
Minor improvements have been made to the default typography styles and template layouts. The original Wātea typeface, Nunito Sans, remains as the default font option, but we’ve now also included Fira Sans and Merriweather. Fira Sans is widely used across New Zealand Government websites and is a slightly narrower, more distinguished sans-serif font alternative. Merriweather offers the user a contemporary take on a classic serif font—highly readable with differing weights for web. Read more about Wātea Plus here.