Halifax Water

Halifax Water sought to overhaul its existing web presence to better serve its customers and provide a scalable platform to leverage emerging technologies.

A glass of water places in a stream of fresh running water.
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Halifax Water
Halifax Water provides critical water, fire protection, wastewater, and stormwater services to Halifax’s approximate 355,000 residents. The utility employs approximately 450 people and has assets in excess of $1 billion.
Confident that the agency would meet all of their goals, Halifax Water selected OPIN to complete its ambitious web project.

Halifax Water's Revolutionary Solution to Improve Customer Support for Hundreds of Thousands of Residents

Halifax Water sought to overhaul its existing web presence to better serve its customers and provide a scalable platform to leverage emerging technologies. Originally tied to the City of Halifax website, Halifax Water wanted a standalone website.

Overview of Mandate, Objectives, and Strategy

Halifax Water provides critical water, fire protection, wastewater, and stormwater services to Halifax’s approximate 355,000 residents. The utility employs approximately 450 people and has assets in excess of $1 billion. 

Halifax Water needed to update their existing web presence to accommodate the future adoption of its customer support program. This program involves the installation of 83,000 smart meters across the utility’s service area that would allow them to remotely monitor water meters without the need to send a technician. This would improve the quality of Halifax Water’s service and cut costs down over time. 

The utility provider ultimately selected OPIN for the project based on their utility and public sector experience and expertise in the Drupal content management system.

Image of the new OPIN logo.
200 plus Drupal projects with over 80 public sector projects.

 

Halifax Water needed a new website developed with a robust and scalable architecture that would provide detailed, hourly reporting of operational and transactional data to Halifax Water’s customers, allowing them to monitor their usage habits.

To support this new platform, Halifax Water needed to migrate its existing online services from the Halifax municipal website to its own domain. The website architecture for the new domain needed to be fully responsive on all devices and strongly customer-centric, complete with elegant design and consistent Halifax Water branding across all pages.

Halifax Water Site on Tablet

Additionally, a powerful hosting solution for the new website's content in addition to reliable, ongoing 24/7 support was a requirement for the project. 

Goals

- A security architecture compliant with all Nova Scotia privacy and security legislation

- A secure, scalable, responsive, and reliable hosting environment with 24/7 monitoring and real-time event alerting

- Support for web analytics reporting

- A website design that incorporates best practices for utility industry websites, with a focus on user experience

- A collaborative, engaged approach with Halifax Water to ensure acceptance of the final design

- Creation of a customer-centric website architecture and online experience that would support the delivery of existing Halifax Water content in addition to planned services in the future

- Full responsiveness on mobile devices and tablets

- Provision of a cost-effective content management system that would seamlessly support the workflow of Halifax Water content authors and require little external support for content management

- A website compliant with best practices and standards for accessibility, access control, version control, metadata, auditing and website search.

- Rigorous quality assurance and quality control processes in place prior to the launch of the website

- Successful migration of all legacy content from the existing site, complete with in-depth validation and documentation

- Ongoing support that would persist into future phases of Halifax Water’s digital ambitions

The Revolutionary Solution

Confident that the agency would meet all of its goals, Halifax Water selected OPIN to complete its ambitious web project. OPIN, known for its dedicated specialization in Drupal, built Halifax Water’s comprehensive technology solution on Drupal 8, the latest version of the content management system (CMS) and Halifax Water’s existing platform. 

Developed with mobile-first in mind and renowned for its scalability and flexibility compared to other CMS's, Drupal 8 was the perfect platform for the new website, however, the full capabilities of the platform were not realized on the existing site. OPIN’s team greatly improved success rates and directness of findability on the Halifax Water website.

User Interface-Design

OPIN leveraged their internal design expertise, industry best practices, and knowledge gained in our in-depth discovery sessions with Halifax Water to deliver a truly beautiful digital product. The techniques used serve as an example of what’s possible for any Utility

Image of the halifax water site on a chart showing the device agnostic capabilities.

By continuing the usage of Drupal 8, OPIN was able to deliver a strong digital foundation that is essential to support the future implementation of increasingly complex functionality. Furthermore, OPIN was able to increase the effectiveness of Halifax Water’s existing investments while getting to market faster (and more cheaply) rather than re-engineering them.

Drupal’s intuitive tools for content creation, workflow, and publishing continued to make it easy for Halifax Water’s content creators to deliver content about their services efficiently. OPIN took this one step further and created a Drupal distribution of their own to empower editorial teams and enable developers to create great authoring experiences. Supported by OPIN’s robust custom Drupal modules, the new site will be a powerful technological platform for years to come.

User Experience Design for Halifax Water

As a user experience-driven project, user experience design was a top priority for the Halifax Water project. OPIN conducted extensive user research prior to designing the website, informing our designers of what different user journeys looked like. 

OPIN’s talented UX designers determined the most appropriate information architecture and placement of links to help users accomplish their goals in as few clicks as possible.

Image of the user experience best practices in place on the halifax water site.

Collaboration with Halifax Water

OPIN’s expert team, fully certified in Drupal, is dedicated to the Agile development methodology in the execution of all of their projects. This collaborative approach, that included weekly check-ins and a constant feedback loop, helped ensure that all of Halifax Water’s stated objectives were met in a timely manner in a way that consistently exceeded their expectations.

 

image of the agile methodology OPIN uses in its solutions.

Overview of Results

OPIN’s design and development work for Halifax Water demonstrated best practices in public sector design, as well as the OPIN team’s creativity. The website, particularly compared to other municipal utilities, is a great pleasure to use. 

Information is more easily accessible, the objective and purpose of each page are clear and succinct, and the simplified design makes effective use of branding assets and white space - adding character to the site while keeping it simple to use. 

Furthermore, OPIN was able to increase the effectiveness of Halifax Water’s existing technology investments while getting to market faster (and more cheaply) rather than re-engineering them.

OPIN’s longstanding partner, Acquia, provided Halifax Water with the world’s leading Drupal hosting platform: Acquia Cloud Enterprise. In addition to this powerful hosting solution, Acquia will provide 24x7x365 support and an SLA of 99.95% to Halifax Water to ensure their site is always serving their customers once it is launched. 

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Steve Lavigne and Chris Smith from OPIN participating in a Kids and Code workshop
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