4 November 2019
Phillipa Martin

The new Salsa website

A new Salsa website is well overdue. We’re a bit like the chef who doesn’t cook at home, or the builder whose house desperately needs a renovation. We understand this predicament. In our case, it’s been hard to prioritise redeveloping our own website, when we’ve been so busy working on other organisation’s sites, not to mention building large, whole-of-government digital platforms. In fact, we’ve been talking about this project, our project, for over a year now (maybe two). The problem space has been recognised and defined many times — outdated site design, no search facility, content restrictions due to layout templates, and information architecture (IA) problems that make it hard for users to find information. In short, our website no longer represents who we are. We can’t put it on the backburner anymore's time!

Showing the journey

We decided early in the process to blog about the website redevelopment as it’s happening. Afterall, transparency is one of our values and it aligns with our open source ethos and our commitment to the open government movement. This blog series is a good opportunity to lift the curtain and give you a behind-the-scenes look at the end-to-end process we use to deliver the new Salsa website. From user research, to creative, to requirements to build and launch — nothing will be off limits.

Eating our own dog food

To redevelop our site properly we had to eat our own dog food (although the alternative phrase ‘drink our own champagne’ sounds much better!) — we’re committed to following the standard process we put our clients through. Yes, it was/is tempting to take shortcuts and get our site up as quickly as possible (especially when it’s sooooo overdue) but we decided to follow the advice we give clients, to eat our own dogfood, and start at the beginning by looking at user analytics and then developing personas to represent our users.

To truly drink our own champagne we it felt appropriate to choose Victoria’s whole-of-government digital platform, Single Digital Presence, including the Ripple design system and the Tide Drupal distribution. Having co-created and built the system we’re able to benefit from the highly standard compliant components, which are backed by user research and now have a series of reference sites. Proven, re-usable components enable us to deliver more quickly, with increased quality and less effort. Using Single Digital Presence also gives us an opportunity to give back to the community, if we need to create any new modules for specific functionality. The choice provides us with the benefits and type of leverage we present to our clients when recommending the Single Digital Presence solution.


The main stages are:

  1. Reviewing analytics and/or user research

  2. Persona development

  3. User journeys

  4. User stories

  5. Information architecture

  6. Wireframing

  7. Design

  8. Content strategy and audit

  9. Backend development (site build)

  10. Site launch

Our project team

Our initial project team consists of:

  • An engagement manager (Julie)

  • Two designers with experience in personas, user journeys and wireframing as well as traditional design (Adam and Rose)

  • Our content writer (me — Phillipa)

  • Our social media consultant (Laura)

  • Salsa’s two directors — Alfred and Paul

  • Our resident master business analyst and Single Digital Presence guru Jim

  • Developers (yet to be decided)

Everyone on the project team plays an important role. Alfred, Paul and Julie are front line, dealing with our prospects and clients on a daily basis. They know what our clients need and want, and also what our ideal clients look like.

Adam, one of our designers, will drive the creative side of the project, and is also experienced with user-centred design, persona development, and user journey mapping — ensuring this part of the Salsa website redevelopment is covered.

Our content writer (that’s me) and social media strategist (Laura) both have a deep background in marketing communications and digital media, and also have experience with developing IA, content audits and content strategy.

Jim knows Single Digital Presence back-the-front, especially Tide (the headless drupal distribution) and Ripple (the Victorian Government design system).

Our team will expand to include our developers, but we haven’t selected specific people for those roles yet.

Here we go

Wish us luck as we embark on this exciting journey...finally! And stay tuned for the next blog in the series, which will look at stage 1 — user analytics and persona development.

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