Canadian web experience toolkit

Published October 14, 2013 by Ben Balter, GitHub

Government websites often share many of the same basic requirements such as usability, accessibility, and interoperability. Rather than reinvent the wheel each time, the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada developed the Web Experience Toolkit to create a set of shared templates for all government websites.

After extensive user acceptance testing, this mobile-first, multilingual framework can be completely customized for any public or private use case. As project lead Paul Jackson remarked during a recent webinar, “It actually became much easier for everyone to meet their requirements and a lot less costly by everyone pooling their resources into a common solution that everyone could repurpose.” Even the documentation itself is open source and collaborative using GitHub Pages.

Today, with nearly 300 forks, and almost 100 members, the award-winning Web Experience Toolkit has been translated to more than 30 languages and is one of, if not the most active government open source projects. Members of the public and government employees are encouraged to contribute code or post bug finds or fixes, questions and usability test results as issues. As Jackson noted, “It’s all free. It’s community resources, so there’s no request for any funds to do any work.”

Interested in using the Web Experience Toolkit for your next site? Simply download the latest release. The Toolkit is licensed for commercial re-use so it’s not just for government. The toolkit is both W3C and WCAG standards-compliant and has been adapted for use with Drupal, SharePoint, Jekyll, PHP, SSI and Wordpress. It is fully themeable. You can see it featured, for example, on the Canadian Open Data portal, and the conference website for a11yQC. With over 3,000 issues under its belt, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.


See an error or have a story of your own to tell? This page is open source, so submit a pull request!