The South Australian Government Website Design System (

  • 2021

  • Digital
    Web Design and Development

Designed By:

  • South Australian Government
  • Vision Australia's Digital Access Team
  • Royal Society for the Blind
  • Blind Citizens Australia
  • Squiz Australia

Commissioned By:

Department of the Premier and Cabinet, South Australian Government

Designed In:


The South Australian Government’s Website Design System is a template-based website framework to help Government agencies create consistent, easy to use, accessible websites. Supporting the State Disability Inclusion Plan 2019-2023, it was developed by Department of the Premier and Cabinet in partnership with Vision Australia and Squiz, with significant contributions from Royal Society for the Blind (SA) and Blind Citizens Australia (SA).

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  • Previously there was no consistent approach with digital design. One government, many different looks and feels. Our user experience research found that citizens wanted government websites to be contemporary and easy. Agencies wanted it to be flexible, functional and easy to use. People with disability and older South Australians wanted it to meet the highest accessibility standards. People in regional areas wanted it to work with low band internet. So over 6 months, we worked to build a universal design language which could be adopted to any SA Government agency, on any device and easy to use by all citizens.

  • In adopting a co-design methodology, we learnt that it strengthens partnerships with all sectors of the community, particularly ensuring people with disability have a leading role in shaping solutions and digital products which influence their lives. Supporting agencies design new services by incorporating digital inclusion, architecture principles and security from the start, we now offer: - A highly customisable, easy-to-edit website component library. - A high focus on end-user experience, content delivery and giving agencies choice of layout adjustments to suit needs whilst keeping a uniform design and feel. - Promotion of universal design language by enabling a single, flexible design for whole-of-government.

  • Stepping outside the traditional approach replicated by governments globally, SA Government (alongside our key partner Vision Australia) created a unique way online accessibility is managed across multiple government websites. Previously, each of our websites existed as a separate entity. Now each component is managed centrally. This means as upgrades and accessibility updates are developed, tested and deployed once at the top level - they then cascade to all sites. We (and Vision Australia) believe the approach is valuable for digital inclusion as it now means inclusion is no longer a costly afterthought.

  • Australian Government found retrofitting solutions to meet accessibility standards can cost up to 30 times more than if accessibility standards are incorporated progressively. Socially, many older Australians and people with disability living in isolation also suffer emotional, physical and emotional abuse. This isolation is strengthened when online government support services and information is inaccessible. Within limitations of the traditional approach adopted by many governments around the world, online accessibility is proven to be difficult to effectively manage. The main issue is the traditional approach focuses on a single accessible base template with each website existing as a separate entity. For example, our previous templates achieved accessibility certification. Yet, each website had to be updated separately. Accessibility fixes often caused other issues due to agency changes. Our focus is on removing identified barriers preventing the creation of accessible online content. Improving the quality of the online experience for everyone, in particular people living with permanent, temporary or situational disability. Industry recognised, our approach has already had a positive affect and response within government and the community (in particular the disability community) - helping in turn to reduce online isolation and opening up support channels through adoption of good online accessibility practices.