The Project at a Glance

The Challenge

Social workers and other frontline staff at Oranga Tamariki (OT) - New Zealand's Ministry for Children - have intense jobs that leave limited time to keep up-to-date and implement new practices. OT wanted a user-friendly website to make information easier to access and facilitate the move away from old-fashioned paper-based documentation and processes.

The Solution

Ackama conducted workshops across New Zealand with relevant stakeholders to understand the challenges for front-line staff. From our findings we created recommendations and approaches to help Oranga Tamariki support stakeholders across the sector.


Co-design workshops
Content strategy
Customer Journey Map
Exemplar Review
Expert Review
Google Analytics
Information Architecture
UX/Web design
Usability Testing - moderated and unmoderated
Implementation in Silverstripe CMS

The Outcome

A more intuitive system for sharing the right information with stakeholders at the right time. This lead to both higher user happiness and increased conformance to current practice.

A Need to Find Information - Fast

Oranga Tamariki Practice Centre is a website that allows internal frontline staff, social work practitioners and the general public to refer to the policies governing the practice of protecting young people. It is the source of service pathways, knowledge resources and policy information. With a new practice framework and revised standards of care, it was critical to provide high quality, easily accessed standards to make expectations clear and ensure social workers would refer to it.

The previous Oranga Tamariki Practice Centre website had received a lacklustre reception from users – they felt it looked nice but didn’t meet their needs for looking up information quickly. Organisationally, caseworkers were relying on their institutional knowledge or line managers for questions via workarounds instead of using the website as a source of truth, leading to slow processes and increasing inefficiencies by following outdated procedures or using obsolete documents.  

With a new mandate to improve children’s lives with a practice framework, Oranga Tamariki wanted to take this opportunity to create a new and improved website that was helpful, easy to use and aligned with their practice framework strategies. 

Ackama approached the work in three phases – discovery, research and delivery.  Three designers were used in collaboration to: 

  • lead the workshops, analyse data and identify findings,
  • work on research and design tasks,
  • design the new website based on the recommendations from the research findings and content strategy.


In the discovery phase, Ackama used methods to help understand the problems and identify assumptions of the users and the issues they faced:

  • Google Analytics for the website were analysed to understand who was using the site, what they were looking for, what content was important and what device they used. 
  • An expert review of the website was carried out to identify usability issues with the current organisation of information, design and navigation to content.
  • Exemplar reviews with 19 other websites were conducted to collect ideas of how things are solved on similar websites.
  • Internal workshop were held with content creators to understand how they approach writing the content on policies and practices. 

This allowed the Ackama team to understand where to focus their efforts, as well as approaching solutions with assumptions in mind.


In the research phase, assumptions were validated with a series of co-design workshop with Oranga Tamariki frontline staff from three regions in the North and South Islands. A content writer was included to rewrite user-centric content at the last co-design workshop. Different co-design techniques were used, such as process mapping and cardsorting, in order to: 

  • understand the main pain points when using the current website,
  • validate the customer journey when using the current website or other paths to find information,
  • identify user types within the organisation,
  • correlate the types of information they are most interested in,
  • test a new information model by way of how the content was presented and how someone would navigate to the page.

With each workshop, the team incrementally validated the main deliverables:

  • the customer journey
  • the personas 
  • a new website design via wireframes
  • the main navigation and information model 
  • a content strategy approach
  • validated key requirements to build the website and roadmap for delivery

Ackama defined the restructuring of the navigation, rewriting of the content and bringing together of the information across the types of events – how the practice informs what the social worker should engage and what the policy says to support the rights of the young person. Working with the owner of the product, the team supported the organisational decision to hire two content focused individuals to care for the website as they added the relevant user-friendly content.


With the main research phase accomplished, the delivery time was used to collaborate with Oranga Tamariki cultural advisors, service design and brand design team to ensure the designs were in keeping with their brand and utilised Māori tohu concepts used within the practice framework.  With partners, we built and delivered the website in Silverstripe 4 CMS. We conducted usability testing of the new site using moderated one-on-one formal usability testing and unmoderated remote testing using online tools. Ackama was able to catch design and usability issues through these activities and made any changes as it delivered the website and CMS to Oranga Tamariki.

Oranga Tamariki is going through the herculean task of writing user friendly content that meets the strategies of the organisation. Oranga Tamariki knows they only have one chance to roll out a Practice Centre that meets the needs of their front line workers as well as other visitors. 

We enjoyed working with Oranga Tamariki in a highly collaborative manner to reach the desired outcomes.