ATO | Promoting teen financial literacy with an accessible learning platform
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) wanted to create a new learning management system (LMS) for students, teachers and parents with the goal to improve financial literacy in classrooms across Australia. The website needed to host an extensive database of financial resources for teens that are directly mapped to the Australian Curriculum and other syllabuses.
Digital8 was engaged in 2019 to design, develop and deploy the ATO’s new website and online learning platform: Tax, Super + You.
The initial stage of building the Tax, Super + You website focused on creating a best in category website that was easy to navigate for students, parents and teachers involving two rounds of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) testing.
The next stage was creating the Online Learning Platform; a separate project that hosts the lessons and assessments for Primary and Secondary school students using modern technologies and frameworks like jQuery and Bootstrap integrated with the Drupal 9 CMS.
Delivered by a responsive team of developers, designers and project managers, the Tax, Super + You website offers thousands of resources for teachers to help teens learn about tax, super, identity theft, running a business and more with practical, real-world examples.
With a focus on open communication and sophisticated digital strategies, Digital8 achieved the ATO’s business goals with a fully accessible Tax, Super + You website and learning platform using Drupal.
Tax, Super + You won the Learning Award at the 2022 IPAA Spirit of Service Awards, the highest award for public service initiatives.
The ATO had a vision for the Tax, Super + You website to provide financial resources targeted to teens through the Australian Curriculum. The ATO worked with a consultant who was responsible for sourcing a web design and development team to build the website and learning management system (LMS).
A problem arose for the ATO consultant when the agency that was originally engaged to submit a tender pulled out the day before the tender was due. After meeting with Digital8, the team drew up a proposal in a few hours’ time so that the consultant could deliver the tender by the deadline. Digital8 won the tender as a result of the team’s responsiveness and expertise.
Understanding the Business Objectives
The ATO required Digital8 to meet key business objectives for the Tax, Super + You website and online learning platform.
The first requirement was for the website to match the current ATO brand and integrate seamlessly with the existing ATO website. Digital8 kept this objective in mind for the duration of the project and the outcome is fully integrated with the ATO brand.
The next requirement was for the website and LMS to be fully accessible as WCAG 2.0 AA compliance was critical. This demanded the Digital8 designers and developers to incorporate accessibility best practices to reach parents, teachers and students who may be differently abled. The designs and development were all focused on accessibility and underwent multiple rounds of testing for quality assurance.
The final requirement was for the LMS to integrate seamlessly with a large database hosting thousands of resources. The Tax, Super + You website uses search functionality and browsing tools to pull database information quickly and effectively.
Digital8 began work on the project by becoming immersed in the ATO’s vision. Digital8 held various workshops with months of in-depth studies of the various user groups and meticulously planned the process of designing and developing the website and LMS. A project scope document was prepared with ideas and wireframes for the project before the design and development began.
Once the scope of the project was approved by the ATO, the project was broken down into sections (known as sprints) to assist the client with budget planning, forecasting and investment. These sprints helped the Digital8 team maintain open communication with the client, offering clear deliverables and timelines with reports and outcomes shared at the end of each sprint.
During the design phase, Digital8’s expert UI/UX team designed high fidelity mockups of the website for the ATO team to review. These mockups offered clarity to the designers and the client about how the end product would eventually look and function. We then created an initial prototype of the website designs for the client to view in a more interactive environment.
Placeholder text and imagery were used during the design phase to avoid unnecessary budget constraints. However, the placeholder text used was Digital8’s recommendation of content length which was written or replaced later in the process.
The Tax, Super + You website and online learning platform were created based on the full scope of UI/UX designs. These designs covered each individual template within the project to ensure that all visual and user experience aspects were taken into consideration and approved, prior to any code being written by a developer.
The design process involved two rounds of UI and UX testing with students and teachers as well as a scoping session to ensure all pages, elements and requirements were accounted for. The design team did research into competitors and planned the overall sitemap, theme, layout and styling of the main components.
Digital8’s developers were informed of the status of the design phase to check for technical feasibility. The designs were then exported into Invision and shared with the ATO who were given the opportunity to offer feedback.
Once the ATO was satisfied with the designs and signed off, the designs were passed on to the development team to begin the website build.
After the final scope and designs were approved, Digital8 built the Tax, Super + You LMS using modern technologies and frameworks including jQuery, Bootstrap and React.js, integrated with Drupal 9.
From the beginning of the process, Digital8 proposed the use of the Drupal 9 CMS as the platform of the LMS. Drupal 9 is Digital8’s CMS of choice for large or complex projects with requirements such as information security or scalability.
Drupal is trusted by governments, international bodies, NGOs and some of the biggest brands in the world. Drupal’s flexibility and long lifecycles make it the perfect choice for businesses looking for a more customised, complex solution that can scale long into the future.
To facilitate the development process, Digital8 set up the staging server so that even in a beta version, it was required to achieve high-performance levels of security, availability and response times.
The development process met a high standard of accessibility as the platform is intended to be used by schools across the country. The website was tested by the ATO accessibility team and passed the WCAG 2.0 twice during the development phase.
Digital8 chose to use Amazon Web Services to set up the box. Digital8 set up the LAMP Stack (Linux, Apache, MariaDB, PHP) on a server using Ubuntu 20 LTS. The Apache server was set up to support HTTP/2 and PHP-FPM. The MariaDB version is 10.3.22. The website pages were served using secure connections (HTTPS).
Bootstrap framework was used to build the front-end of the new Tax, Super + You LMS. Bootstrap was chosen as it is known to implement the latest technology regarding CSS3 and HTML5 languages and for its native integration with Drupal 9 CMS. On top of Bootstrap, Digital8 built the remaining custom responsive theme elements using the SASS scripting language.
jQuery and Ajax were used not only for the interaction elements of the front-end but also for the development of the various calculators used on the LMS. JSON endpoints were built to return the calculations required by the front-end forms and calculators.
Developers were in regular contact with the ATO to ensure the overall success of the development process. Open communication is key during any complex web development project and Digital8 facilitated a smooth development workflow that was highly collaborative with the client.
Upon completion of the development phase, the offline project was transitioned to a usable online website. This involved server configuration and setting up key monitoring platforms to ensure uptime and to catch any bugs.
During this stage, Digital8 also tested the website for user experience and device readiness.
The main challenges presented by the ATO Tax, Super + You project included content loading, QA and amendment challenges, compliance challenges with cloud hosting, and meeting content delivery and accessibility requirements.
By keeping open communication between the client and Digital8’s project managers, designers and developers, potential issues were identified early and a plan was formulated among the design and development team to meet those challenges efficiently.
For challenges with content loading, QA and amendments, any potential impacts on the timeline were communicated clearly to the ATO to help set the expectations on all sides. Additionally, admin access was granted to the development team to assist with uploading and changing the content during the development phase.
While Digital8 was interested in offering cloud hosting services, the ATO required a great deal of compliance that the Digital8 team simply did not have. A co-tender was brought in to manage the cloud hosting services.
To meet content delivery and accessibility requirements, the ATO offered a resource plan to work around the issue. A plan was also formulated by the development team to provide solutions for accessibility requirements on PDFs and slides within the course content.
The ATO Tax, Super + Me website and online learning platform successfully launched in July 2021. Digital8 provided ongoing support after the launch, assisting with hosting capabilities to ensure the stability of the LMS database.
Digital8 met the ATO’s business objectives for the Tax, Super + You project by:
- Providing a fully accessible LMS using Drupal 9
- Matching the current ATO branding in all designs
- Creating an interactive user experience tailored for teachers, students and parents
- Offering seamless functionality with a large database of resources
By prioritising communication and responsiveness, the ATO was constantly up to date with Digital8’s progress, creating an open and collaborative environment that ultimately led to a successful outcome.
Post-launch, the ATO’s Tax, Super + You website and online learning platform continue to thrive and in 2022, achieved the highest award for public service initiatives, winning the Learning Award at the IPAA Spirit of Service Awards.
View the Tax, Super + You Mobile Prototype
View the Tax, Super + You Teacher Experience Web Prototype
View the Tax, Super + You Parent Experience Web Prototype
Visit the Active Tax, Super + You Website
Watch the IPPA Spirit of Service Awards Demonstration
Let us help you reach your business goals through digital solutions and contact our expert team of developers, web designers and digital strategists at Digital8 today.