State Website Platform

Medium

Through a common platform, the State of North Dakota is reducing spending, combating cybersecurity threats, improving user experience, and promoting digital equity across government. 

Why do we need a statewide website platform?

Without a common platform:

  • Website creation and maintenance is resource-intensive, leaving many agencies without the financial and staffing resources to upgrade their websites.
  • Resources invested in individual sites do not benefit the enterprise, leading to redundant spending and duplicate effort.
  • The use of multiple content management systems (CMS) and versions with a limited overall patching strategy poses a cybersecurity risk.
  • Drastically different theming and structure across state websites provide a less than desired and inconsistent experience for government-citizen interaction.

A common platform:

  • Enables agencies to have modern, feature-rich websites for a fraction of the current cost
  • Allows agencies to craft their own identity while still maintaining an overall state brand across sites. This is done by standardizing certain website elements while giving agencies control over other elements
  • Consists of a single code base that is continually patched and improved. Since each site on the platform uses the same code base, any resources invested in the platform benefit every site
  • Is built on an open-source content management system, Drupal, which eliminates licensing fees, benefits from an open-source community and provides opportunities for vendor support, if desired

A Few Example Sites

Medium
Features and Pricing

Self-Service

Unlike a traditional custom website, where a request must be sent to IT for changes, you have a broad range of control to customize your site colors, content, and layout. We achieve much of this flexibility through the use of "Drupal Paragraphs," which are like building blocks you arrange to build pages that fit your users' needs. Current Paragraphs (building blocks) include:

  • Accordion: Expandable accordions let users expand/collapse information to create clean pages without too much scrolling.
  • Career Feed: Automatically display your open jobs using our integration with PeopleSoft.
  • Image: Insert individual images, add a slideshow, or even add interactive 360 degree images.
  • Video: Either upload videos directly to the site or embed them from Youtube.
  • Social Feed: Twitter and Facebook feeds display your most recent social media posts.
  • WYSIWYG:  This fun acronym stands for What you See is What you Get.  A WYSIWYG (pronounced wiz - E - wig) is a powerful text editor, like Microsoft Word, that allows you to add and edit text without knowing how to code.

Top Features

  • Secure: Websites are like any other software, they need to be regularly patched to remain secure. With the platform, we take care of that for you. We'll ensure your site is up-to-date with all relevant security patches.
  • Continually Improving: The platform is always growing and improving, and whenever we make an improvement, every site on the platform gets that improvement.
  • Mobile-Friendly: A "responsive design" means that sites automatically resize and reorient themselves to work on any device, includes computers, phones, and tablets. 
  • Accessible: Sites are WCAG 2.0 AA compliant, as well as compliant with all state website standards. 
  • ND.gov URL: The monthly rate includes a secure (https), unique URL under the nd.gov domain (e.g. www.nd.gov/itd and www.nd.gov/auditor). Agencies that require a 3rd level, or subdomain (e.g. www.parkrec.nd.gov and www.attorneygeneral.nd.gov), may incur an additional cost for a security certificate. 
  • Customizable: Although each site shares a common code base, they don't need to look the same. The platform includes a certain amount of customization that allows agencies to craft an identity while still remaining consistent with an overall theme. 
  • Embed External Content: Drupal plays nice with embedded content from other services. For example, you can create an interactive map using a 3rd party, like Google or Bing, and embed the map on your website. 
  • Contact Us and Feedback Forms: Each site comes with "Contact Us" and "Feedback" webforms that allow viewers to securely submit feedback or ask questions.

Not included

  • eCommerce: The platform does not include e-commerce functionality; however, sites can be customized to meet eCommerce requirements.
  • Custom Webforms:  Custom data collection functionality and online forms will be evaluated individually. Development for custom forms will be billed hourly at standard NDIT rates. 

Customizations

The platform is based on the simple idea that if all websites use the same code base, any enhancements made to that base can be automatically pushed to every website on the platform. When we update the code, every site is updated as well so all sites stay in sync and receive any enhancements and bug fixes.

This approach reduces overall state spending on websites, removes the burden from agencies to patch their sites on a one-off basis, and improves the enterprise security posture. It also means that certain features cannot be customized on individuals sites. For example, the styling (CSS), modules, and page templates cannot be adjusted on a one-off basis.

If the base platform does not meet agency needs, certain custom elements can be created. For example, some sites have custom online forms and others automatically import data from external sources. 

In all cases, there is a risk of increased ongoing cost as the customizations must be accounted for during each patch.

Customizations will be evaluated, built, and billed individually. To start the process, submit a Software Development Service Request

Pricing

  • The current rate is $35/mo per site, which includes creating the blank site based on our template and continued hosting, patching, and storage. For most sites, this is the only cost incurred. 
  • Billing starts when the site is stood up, not when it is launched.
  • The agency is responsible for content entry.
Get Started

Start the conversation by submitting a Software Development Service Request in NDIT's Work Management System (WMS).

If you don't have access to WMS, fill out our Contact Us form.

Once we receive the request, we'll reach out to learn more about you and your constituents' needs. 

Our Process

All sites follow a defined process.

Phase Activity/Task Expectations
Planning Project Plan Document and identify the overall project sope, approach, responsibilites, deliverables, and schedule. Agreement is reached between Digital Services team and agency before proceeding with the project.
Execution Site Standup Stand up the "Staging" website as detailed in the Onboarding Project Plan
Execution Content Migration Migrate content as determined during Onboarding Planning
Testing Quality Testing Coordinate between Digital Services team and agency to finalize site content, fix bugs, and adddress any residual issues
Implementation Go-Live Confirm Go-Live schedule and launch site.
Closeout Closeout Report Confirm that live website is acceptable and that project may be closed.

 

Training

While the website platform is built on Drupal, there's no need to become a Drupal expert to maintain your website. Drupal allows you to create new pages, add images, update your logo, and more without requiring any IT experience.

Visit our training website (must be on the state network) to view all training/support articles and detailed notes for every release of the web platform.