Visually attractive and accessible: a website for the Omgevingsdienst Zuidoost-Brabant

Organisation
CIpix Internet bv
The case
Category
Overheid
Client
Omgevingsdienst Zuidoost-Brabant
Summary
In case of an environmental crisis the Omgevingsdienst Zuidoost-Brabant (ODZOB) could play a vital role in the managing of it. The website is a key tool in their communications to the local authorities and the public. Therefore it is of the upmost importance that the information on the website is accessible for everyone. The ODZOB website is build according to the WCAG 2.0 standards.
Project description
The ‘omgevingsdiensten’ are commissioned by communities and provinces to improve the environment and living conditions of the Netherlands. They achieve this by issuing licences and by supervising and enforcing environmental rules and regulations. Their expertise covers a broad spectrum of areas such as: climate, water, energy, pollution, etc.

In case of an environmental disaster the information issued by the ‘omgevingsdienst’ can be crucial and even lifesaving. Therefore, the website is a strong tool for these organisations. Providing accurate and relevant information is the main goal of the website. Because of the urgency of the message it is vital that the information is accessible for anyone, including people with a disability.

Omgevingsdiensten are fairly new organizations (established in 2013) and as such they need to claim their own place in the public arena. One of the goals of the new website is to communicate their authority as a knowledge base on a broad spectrum of environmental issues (profiling and positioning).
Since the launch of the new, Drupal powered, ODZOB website, a significant improvement in visitor statistics has been achieved. One of the most important improvements is the reduction of the bounce percentage by 13% . Furthermore, the number of visitors, sessions as well as pageviews have increased by more than 35 %. Interesting is that mobile visits have increased twice as much as desktop visits.

Accessibility
It is crucial to provide equal opportunity and access to users with a disability. So when the Omgevingsdienst Zuidoost-Brabant commissioned a new website they made sure that accessibility according to WCAG 2.0 standards was a requirement.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is a checklist issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The ODZOB website passed all sections of this checklist. This indicates that that website is accessible to visitors with a disability.
By using this checklist we ensured that the website offers access to information and a proper user experience for everyone, including anyone with a disability and on. The website presents information orderly and the message is supported by images and clear lay-out.
Challenges
Combining accessibility and aesthetics
When accessibility is an important part of the project there’s a risk of creating a boring or even an ugly website. The ODZOB did not want this and neither did we! So there was the ambition to create something attractive, engaging and accessible.
By using bold colours and professional photography the website offers a nice visual experience. At the same time, visitors with impairments are aided by the colours we chose, by the size of the elements, the alt tags on images, clear navigation links, the structured code and more. All functionalities are accessible with a keyboard so accessibility throughout the entire website is assured.

Limited and restricted budget
The ODZOB website is proof of the fact that there’s no need to choose accessibility over aesthetics: the two can be well combined. Although this can be a challenge, it’s not unique. What does stand out in this project though, is the fact that we’ve managed to create the concept, the design and the technical realisation of this fully accessible website within 300 hours.
From the onset it was evident we had to take our pragmatic and efficient approach to the next level. It was clear that the product had to meet specific conditions, a deadline and a restricted budget. No basis for an agile scrum project approach. Our project approach can be characterized as a combination of the waterfall and agile scrum method. We created a concept by defining and prioritizing the conditions, functionalities and the rough outlines of the project. The technical realization was carried out via sprints which allowed us to make adjustments when desired but never without weighing the added value of the new wishes against the end goals and the end date. The website was delivered on time and within the 300 hour budget.
Community contributions
For this case no community contributions were made.
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