Website Redesign Project & Client Details
- Client: Heat Ready CA dot Com
- Date: July 2023
- Website: Heat Ready CA dot Com
- Compatible Browsers:
As California experiences more frequent and severe heat waves, Governor Gavin Newsom launched Heat Ready CA (heatreadyca.com) in July 2023, an initiative touted as one of the nation’s first statewide multi-ethnic awareness and education campaigns to keep California residents safe during dangerous temperatures.
Heat Ready CA is led by the Governor’s Office of Community Partnerships and Strategic Communications (OCPSC), a newly established office that manages the state’s highest-priority public engagement efforts.
OCPSC partnered with Runyon Saltzman (RSE), an integrated marketing and communications agency based in Sacramento, to design the webpages and content according to the campaign’s guidelines. However, RSE needed help realizing the agency’s mockups in WordPress, so they reached out to Capitol Tech Solutions to leverage our web development experts.
Project Start – Asset Handoff & Developer Feedback
The CTS User Experience and Web Development teams met with RSE to review the Adobe XD mockups of the homepage, inner pages, and content the agency had developed under the guidance of OCPSC. The web development team, whose members have completed multiple government courses in ADA website compliance, advised changes to designs and content to ensure the website complied with state web accessibility law.
Any website affiliated with a government agency in California must adhere to some of the highest standards of website accessibility, per the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which publishes standards to make the web more uniform so it can run more efficiently and accessibly. The government standard for ADA compliance is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA, which has 50 success criteria, essentially a to-do list that ensures a website is easy to use for people with disabilities.
Additionally, the CTS team advised RSE on the best approach to meet the language requirements for the site, 13 in total, through the use of a WordPress plugin and manual translations of certain content.
Using the feedback from CTS, the RSE team was able to alter mockups and content accordingly to hand off to our Web Development Team to begin work on the new website.
Project Phase 1 – New Website
CTS web developers began building the website to the specifications of the mockups. As meteorologists predicted the heat to crest the triple-digit mark in the coming weeks, OCPSC and RSE expressed the urgency to Go Live with an informative homepage and reactive PDF guide generator as soon as possible.
The Web Development Team devoted three of its top developers to construct the homepage in English and Spanish, the priorities indicated by stakeholders, and a Business Analyst from the User Experience Team to map out user responses and safety tip generation on the PDF.
The PDF, which can be saved, printed, or sent via email once generated, provides users with tips on how to stay cool and care for themselves, their children, people with disabilities, and older adults. It uses logic mapping to determine what tips to provide based on the user’s selection of pre-determined answers. The checklist provides common sense information, such as not leaving a child unattended in a hot car, and less-known facts like freezing wet towels to apply to pulse points later to help keep cool.
With the homepage and PDF tip generator ready and stakeholder approval, the website went live as temperatures began to ramp up the week of July 3, 2023. From mid-June to the site’s launch, the CTS User Experience and Web Development Teams spent roughly 73 hours in project management and development.
Project Phase 2 – Updating & Building Website In Response To Real-World Events
Not long after the site went live, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the Extreme Heat CA campaign and directed California residents to use the website to learn how to stay cool as heat waves mounted. Californians flocked to the site after the announcement, 45,000 within 30 days after the site launched. The influx of users prompted constant updates to the messaging and rollout of additional features in response to user feedback.
Developers at CTS were quick to integrate a weather widget, allowing site visitors to input the cities of importance to them, including where they live or where loved ones reside, for a weather forecast and temperature high.
Inner pages with more information for specific user groups were also rapidly deployed, such as:
- Older Adults 65+
- Parents & Caretakers of Young Children
- People with Disabilities & Chronic Conditions
- Pregnant People
- People in Urban Communities
- People Experiencing Homelessness
The increase in information proved vital as media outlets across the state continued to report on and showcase the website to various audiences. The Project Coordinator and Business Analyst from the CTS User Experience Team worked in tandem with RSE to capture real-time deliverables and create a reasonable but accelerated delivery of changes and modifications across the site.
Project Phase 3 – Multi-Language Support
With an informative website readily available to English and Spanish speakers in California, CTS and RSE worked to deliver multi-language support and fine-tune previous translations and ADA accessibility.
Whereas the WordPress plugin WPML, a WordPress translation plugin that allows users to run a multilingual website on a single WordPress installation, was capable of translating the site into a majority of the 13 languages, manual translations were required for Tagalog and Hmong speakers.
Against a tight deadline with real-world events shaping the awareness campaign behind the website in real-time, Capitol Tech Solutions was able to help partner agency RSE deliver a product with a significant impact on the lives of Californians.
After the project kicked off in late May 2023, with development of the current website iteration beginning in late June, the experience proved that CTS could rely on its user experience and web development experts to rapidly go live with an informative website and add more content as needed and as directed by stakeholders in the highest offices of California state government.
Our digital agency can partner with agencies to build a website based on existing mockups or enlist our internal graphic designers to present mockups that reflect the client’s vision.
The Extreme Heat CA campaign will be live until November 2023, at which point it will be temporarily retired. But, as the Governor’s Office notes, with more frequent and severe heat waves in the summertime, the website and information will continue to be helpful into the future.