Espanola is a town in Northern Ontario of approximately 5,000 residents. It plays a critical role as a service and commercial hub in the local community as well those in the broader Lacloche and Manitoulin Island region. In 2019 the town established a new Strategic Plan focused on better serving the needs of its citizens, maximizing economic growth, attracting new residents and businesses, and promoting its strategic location and natural beauty.
As part of meeting these objectives, Espanola mandated a full redesign of the current town website (www.espanola.ca). The site was over 10 years old, with a deprecated look and feel. Navigation was cumbersome and the site did not lend itself well to mobile or tablet screens. The previous website had been built using technologies that made routine maintenance a challenge and simple content changes or updates difficult.
Comply with WCAG 2.1 and W3C accessibility standards
Provide mobile compatibility
Provide simple electronic access to public services and serve as a communications tool
Provide a modern look with enhanced functionality, including robust search capabilities
Be easy to use for both the public and town staff
Sandbox worked with various stakeholder groups (both internal and external) at Espanola to further define the Town’s and the community’s needs for the website through several discovery activities, including our in-person digital strategy workshops. Upon analysis of all information gathered, and using our experience and understanding of web development best practices, Sandbox generated a set of comprehensive recommendations for the new website. This included information architecture, wireframes, functional definitions, technical requirements, aesthetic preferences and more. Our team created custom web design concepts that were mobile friendly, visually engaging, reflected the Town’s brand and emphasized and promoted the Town’s many roles in the community. The new website was designed and built to be intuitive, accessible and easy to navigate. The new Espanola website takes advantage of the cost-effective, flexible, scaleable and easy-to-use Content Management System, OASIS. Sandbox supported the Town in web page development, content migration, building in custom functionality and developing integrations with third party systems. Our dedicated Quality Assurance team lead several activities to ensure the integrity (security and performance) of the mobile-friendly website. This included cross device, and cross browser compatibility, as well as best practice audits, user experience testing, and user acceptance testing.
The new www.espanola.ca leverages a custom, responsive design that reflects the Town’s brand and is aimed at attracting new residents and businesses. The website is fully content-managed thanks to the intuitive OASIS CMS, which allows Town staff to easily apply updates to the site. The improved look and feel of the site allows for not only a streamlined user experience across a range of screen sizes, but improved access to public services and public domain information. This includes the Town Library, where users can access online resources, their Library account, the online catalogue and view the dedicated Library events calendar. The new Town of Espanola website launched at the end of October 2020. To help promote the new website, engage audience members and coincide with Halloween, Sandbox developed a Halloween-themed design template for the launch. We also included a number of spooky themed interactive icons such as pumpkins and vampires that were displayed throughout the website. Users were encouraged to participate in an online scavenger hunt for these Halloween icons and add them to their online cart. After check-out, users were entered into an online prize draw for candy and other treats from local businesses.
"Sandbox went above and beyond. The team was accommodating, patient and provided clear direction and support. It was a first rate experience right from the start."
— Cheryl Kennelly, Community & Economic Development Officer, Town of Espanola
The new Espanola.ca website is built in the feature-rich and easy-to-use OASIS Content Management System. Administrators can quickly update or change content, build out new pages, and manage users and groups all with the click of a button.> OASIS CMS Development
As part of our Digital Strategy, Sandbox worked with the Espanola team to garner opinions and thoughts about the new website from key internal stakeholders, and the broader community. Our in-person workshops generated key insights that led to recommendations on Information Architecture, Designs, Site Map, and Web Governance.> Digital Strategy & Consulting
Espanola’s new website leverages a custom design, developed by Sandbox Software using responsive design best practices. We used our experience in public sector, user-centric website development to ensure espanola.ca lends itself well across a range of screens and devices, and satisfies WCAG 2.1 accessibility and W3C compliance.> Auditing & Quality Assurance