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Evolving the online customer experience

The NSW Department of Customer Service website had a rigid design and data model that made it difficult to manage and use. With our help, DCS set out to integrate a fluid design system into an updated Drupal 8 site. This improved both the customer and content editor experiences, and also enabled developers to share a consistent look and functionality across several government websites.

The NSW Department of Customer Service


  • Agile and user-centric development
  • Robust hosting on Skpr
  • Ongoing Drupal expert support
  • Flexible, shareable design components
  • Up-to-date Drupal platform
  • Customisable user search


  • Easy to follow information architecture
  • Better developer tools
  • Smarter search
  • Accessible and familiar design features

Why these deliverables?

These deliverables were designed to help DCS improve both the user and content editor experience. They also entailed bringing several NSW government agency sites under the one, larger umbrella site in a fluid and seamless integration. This marrying up of sites under one content management system (CMS) would allow for fast and extensive content updates from multiple teams, particularly during natural disasters and more recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic.


DCS is made up of over 30 agencies, entities and business units that provide important services to the people of NSW. Its goal is to deliver excellence in customer service, digital leadership and innovation in government services, as well as safe and secure markets.

Keeping this flow of service delivery, information and continuous improvement at an optimum level requires a site that is reliable, secure, fast and easy to manage.

The challenge was: how could DCS achieve these operational goals, with a rigid design and data model, on a platform that needed to be modernised?

DCS Meeting


Modernising and evolving the technical platform

DCS decided to upgrade the user experience by migrating their site from SilverStripe to Drupal 8. Partnering with us allowed them to leverage the experience we’ve gained from working with ServiceNSW and other NSW government agencies on their Drupal sites. This also meant DCS could deliver a site that provides a similar user experience and fluid design system integration.

The plan involved integrating the new NSW Government Design system. This toolkit for all things ‘NSW’ would enable the site to constantly evolve with up-to-date design changes. 

All legacy data, news and media releases from the consolidated sites were migrated from Silverstripe into Drupal. This involved the import of 5000 legacy content items, which was made easier by Drupal custom migrations. The Drupal migration API is also used to periodically import events from the legacy site ‘Australian Tourism Data Warehouse’.

DCS - Working and Business components

Design-driven development

To create an improved front-end workflow, we built the NSW Government Design System alongside the front-end of the site. 

The DCS Design System Team collaborated with us to establish workflows for the release of the design system packages using NPM. This means that other government agencies can benefit from using them. 

This level of flexibility extended to giving site editors the ability to create different landing page designs. Using Drupal 8 layout builder facilitated this fluid data model and helped to marry design system components 1:1, using Drupal custom blocks and field API.

Development on the site began during the design phase of the project. This meant design dictated the pace and technical direction for backend and frontend implementation.


DCS aimed to make its content quick and easy to access for the public. To achieve this meant addressing the searchability of the integrated NSW.GOV site.

Sajari was chosen as the best search option for meeting user demand. Sajari can search across whole sites and has the added benefit of integrating seamlessly with Drupal 8. The DCS team is also able to customise search results based on real-time analytics of their users’ search behaviours, thanks to a custom-built Google Tag Manager.

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A robust hosting solution

DCS chose to host their new site on Skpr, our managed cloud-based hosting platform.

They made this selection based on the need to keep their user experience consistent regardless of how many people are using the site at any one time. 

As part of the migration process, Customer Services, BDM and LifeEvent were consolidated into NSW.GOV. The DCS development team is able to add server-level redirects for any website under this umbrella - a customised solution made possible by Skpr.

Using Skpr also enabled DCS to roll out site features in stages. This created time and space for real user interactions, which informed any fine-tuning of the applications. In turn, this led to a seamless go-live once the feature was complete - keeping DCS on track and on target for success.


Flexing through COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the NSW.GOV site was a major source of trusted information for the public. DCS was able to rapidly respond to the changing content needs of the situation with the help of new design system components.

We also worked together to put in place a failover solution. This will keep critical information flowing to the public, even in the rare case of an outage on the hosting platform.

Agile delivery

Driving this ever-evolving site is an agile and user-centric process that involves customers, staff and stakeholders. Their feedback and interactions influence the design, information architecture and functionality of the site.

Before the launch of the public site, a private beta site was launched alongside the existing site. This gave site editors the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new workflows and time to build content pages. Whilst the old site was retired, a public beta site was used to gather public feedback. 

During this beta phase, the development team took the chance to address any feedback and understand if there were any further needs that could be tackled.

And because this project was all about evolution, our relationship with DCS doesn’t end there, as we continue to support and maintain their platform.

The Results

DCS met their challenge head-on, with a site developed for flexibility and constant evolution. As a result, they created a functional online space with clean lines and an easy-to-navigate architecture. 

Behind the scenes, content editors and developers now have the tools they need. That means they can easily, quickly and reliably keep the people of NSW informed and engaged no matter how big or small the issue may be. Over the past year, this has included the ebb and flow of COVID-related restrictions in the state, as well as the launch of the pilot Dine and Discover Voucher scheme.

Most important of all is the trust users can have in the site that they are navigating and searching - and which assists them in their day-to-day work and lives.