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ThinkPlace Website redesign for Department of Finance

Redesigning a critical interface with citizens

A year can be a long time when it comes to digital. A decade is more like an eternity.

So when a website becomes outdated and is no longer fit-for-purpose, the ripples of impact can spread throughout an entire organisation.

Such was the case at the Department of Finance, a critical part of Australia’s government interface with citizens that had not redeveloped its website in ten years.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the website was considered cumbersome to navigate and content difficult to find. And that meant staff spent valuable time responding to a high volume of support calls for low value tasks that an otherwise highly functional website would support.

Users would rather have dealt with their queries in a faster, more efficient manner. And staff would rather have had more time for complex requests that could not be dealt with easily by a website. There was a clear and demonstrated need for change.



Finance’s corporate website had last been redeveloped in 2008. Changes to the department’s functions, as well as ongoing content changes had led to the information architecture degrading since that time.

There wasn't a clear and supported guide for how content created and published, which had resulted in the current website being outdated and laden with poorly-targeted content. 

The client had a strong internal desire to shift towards a self-serve model that reduced the demand for low value support to higher valued support. 

The department was evaluating how it operates and supports the APS - and hoped that the website would play a pivotal role as a communications channel to signal the positive shift to the APS. There was also a strong push to align the future website with the next release of GovCMS. 



ThinkPlace conducted a series of stakeholder engagement sessions to identify the goals and expectations of internal and external users of the Finance website through interviews, focus groups, workshops and contextual enquiry research. 

Our design team took an agile-sprint based approach with weekly sprints involving development, usability testing, synthesis, showcase and retros with the clients and partner teams.  



ThinkPlace began by conducting a Discovery workshop with about 30 external and internal stakeholders to understand the research insights, and identified and prioritised a set of design challenges and ideas.  

Based on the insights gained through the research, we developed personas to understand the different profiles of users. These artefacts created a robust evidence base that was used to generate Information Architecture, navigation and content concepts. 

Web Design prototype ThinkPlace

The high value concepts were developed into paper prototypes and eventually HTML prototypes that were tested with about 28 internal and external stakeholders in a series of weekly usability testing sessions. 

Information Architecture was tested through online tree-jacking tests that involved nearly 90 people. Content Guide Focus Groups were conducted with 20 content writers across Finance to build a content strategy and guide for users. 

The whole report is great and has all the information we requested. I’ve already used it to have some high-level discussions with other business areas and they are all impressed with the direction we’ve plotted and the features we’ve been exploring. (client)


ThinkPlace design for Department of Finance website




This project delivered a design that was evidence-based and which demonstrably improved usability and functionality of the website A compelling co-designed content strategy was created to guide development work for the next phase. 

The client and their stakeholders were impressed with the features we explored and the direction that we took the website in. 


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