Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISEDC) formerly known as Industry Canada works with Canadians in all areas of the economy and in all parts of the country to improve conditions for investment, enhance Canada's innovation performance, increase Canada's share of global trade and build a fair, efficient and competitive marketplace.
In partnership with NSERC, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISEDC) is in charge of running and managing the online Directory of Scientists and Professionals in Canada.
ISEDC's current solutions was a few years old and had many technical challenges which forced ISEDC to shut down the service and invite OpenPlus to analyze the current solution and to propose a strategy moving forward using DrupalWxT.
ISEDC's current online directory was relying on old and outdated technology, which was not scalable, did not meet the latest Government of Canada standards, making the updates and maintenance of the online directory difficult and time consuming.
The public was experiencing performance issues, making the website unusable when they were trying to search and find scientists, reflecting poorly on the ISEDC’s service.
From the scientists and professional perspective it was hard to create and manage their profiles.
Migrate and rebuild the current web app in Drupal WxT 4.x. The new solution had to support all the current features, meet the Government of Canada requirements: WCAG-AA accessible, multilingual, faster load time, and mobile friendly.
The Canadian scientists and professionals must be able to create and manage their own profiles. The approval, review and publication workflow must be handled by ISDEC’s employees with the appropriate user role and permission.
The solution must be flexible and scalable so that ISEDC's IT team can mange and expand on it.
These are the high level phases we performed during the migration of the Online Directory web app.
OpenPlus began by meeting with a variety of stakeholders to understand the user and business requirements and analyze the current solution. These insights we gain, helped us better understand the current challenges and propose a solution that will meet the current requirements, improve user experience and build a product that is scalable and easier to manage. We have built workflow maps and user journey maps to illustrate the user's experience and process to create and manage their profile, the approval workflow, and the interactions with back-end systems.
Given the technical challenges with the current solutions, the best way forward was to rebuild and migrate the web app in Drupal WxT 4 that meets, out-of-box, all the Government of Canada requirements in an open and scalable solution. Our strategy was approved, and we proceeded with our solution.
OpenPlus started with Drupal WxT 4.x, which automatically inherits top header menu tabs and their dropdown menu as well as full footer from Canada.ca using CDN (Content Delivery Network). This method is considered best practice for continuous alignment with the new WRI (Web Renewal Initiative) for authenticated applications.
After performing the analysis or the current portal, we identified the current requirements and areas of improvement, and were tasked with migrating the web app and all its content.
OpenPlus did the following migration:
The main landing page has a simple user interface that focuses on finding and discovering scientists. The visitors have the option to search for scientists by name, by their expertise and profession or find all scientists with a specific expertise or organization. OpenPlus took the opportunity to also improve the user experience by adding an auto suggest search field, as the user types we suggest possible results instead of the current A to Z list that was long and cumbersome.
The front-end interface provides anonymous visitors the ability to search for scientists by keywords such as name, expertise, title, etc. or by using search facets to browse and narrow down their results by date, expertise, organization, location and so on. The search facets are hierarchical and context aware, making the search interface less cluttered and more user friendly.
Search is built using Drupal Search API, a modern faceted solution that reflects open.canada.ca framework, including the same styles and facet behaviours. Search API is turnkey ready for apache SOLR integration, however can perform like SOLR with the native database for facets.
Each scientist profile, once his or her page has been reviewed and approved, appears in the online directory. The scientist has a clean and clear user interface that shows their contact information, biography, credentials, experience and so on.
Drupal comes with flexible and extensive user account management, allowing administrators to create users with different roles and permissions. The User Account Management is also tied to a workflow.
User Roles and Group:
User account creation and Login
Policies for passwords, Account reset expiration and on-time url password resets were configured into the Web App to improve security.
The online directory has full workflow and user account management, including the creation of a profile, review and approval process, and integration with an e-mail notifications system to notify scientists of the status of their application.
Scientists can create a profile by going through a step-by-step form, guiding them to fill all the required fields, uploading their photo, translating their profile and so on. The scientist can save the profile as a draft and make as many changes as needed. Once the scientist is satisfied with their profile, they can change the workflow to “Review Request & Online Publication” at which point an ISEDC’S Moderator is notified to review the profile.
Only ISEDC's Moderators can review and publish profiles through the admin interface. The moderators can accept or reject a profile by providing a brief message for the rejection. If the profile has been approved, the user is notified and the profile published in the online directory.
To keep the information up to date and accurate, the scientists can login from anywhere, at anytime, from any device to make changes. The changes will also go through a review and approval process before appearing online.
Using Drupal's Taxonomy system we built a controlled taxonomy vocabulary which allows scientists to select predefined keywords that fit with their experience, organization, and so on. Taxonomies are also used as search facets and filters, which allow users to search and discover profiles based on the taxonomy keywords.
Given the open source and flexible nature of Drupal; it became extremely easy for ISEDC to extend the current portal. The next phase for IESDC is to enhance the current platform, by adding new features, such as social media integration, organizational charts and structures, reference to locations and building information.
OpenPlus was able to deliver a solution that meets user requirements and business goals, the performance has drastically improved, and the creation and management of profiles is simplified.
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