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New South Wales Government Headless Content Advisory

NSW.gov.au is the official state government website, servicing the extensive needs of the state, both metropolitan and regional areas from vehicle registration through to accessing disability services or retrieving government policies.



How We Helped:


Who We Helped:


The New South Wales Government OneCX Program engaged Luminary for an advisory project on headless CMS. Specifically, they wanted Luminary to clearly define and exhibit headless CMS so that its government agencies were aligned on what it means. These government agencies included the Premier’s Department, The Cabinet Office, NSW Health, the Department of Education, Planning and Environment, Communities and Justice, Transport for NSW and more. By Luminary clearly articulating the why behind headless CMS, the OneCX Program could assess the benefits and opportunities, as well as the limitations and compromises.

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The challenge

The far-reaching scope of the New South Wales Government work meant that there were 750 unique websites serving its residents and partners, and they were beginning to bring all these together for one central website - nsw.gov.au. This complex collation project, called OneCX, was in flight and expected to be a multi-year initiative, making it an opportune time to get the internal teams up to scratch with headless CMS and learn how their individual content needs and audiences could be serviced through this CMS solution.

What we did

Luminary Technical Director, Emmanuel Tissera and Senior Digital Producer, Matt Stobo were tasked with leading the immersive advisory project. The project included multiple interviews with the content, UX and technical teams within the OneCX Program. There was also a headless CMS 101 training session, followed by a content modelling workshop, and a headless use case ideation session to determine the potential use cases across New South Wales government departments. 

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Technical review and recommendations

Luminary worked through a discovery and best practice audit of the nsw.gov.au website, exploring headless CMS and how their current Drupal offering accommodated headless implementation and content models. By utilising the expertise of Luminary Technical Director, Emmanual Tissera, the OneCX Program received a comprehensive ‘playbook’ that summarised all findings and recommendations for the next steps. Technical considerations, process recommendations and architecture diagrams were developed in collaboration with the technical teams across the government agencies. 

Custom education workshops

A core component of understanding headless CMS was seeing it in practice, which Senior Digital Producer, Matt Stobo conveyed through custom presentations and workshops. The workshops allowed the Luminary team to showcase how a centralised piece of content could be displayed as a resource in the media hub, signage in public areas and available on relevant digital touch points throughout the region. There were also real-world examples shown to contextualise headless CMS implementation and capabilities, including New York’s MTA (Metropolitan Transport Authority) which services millions of residents every day.

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Content modelling sessions

Discussions and activities related to content modelling began to shape how the OneCX Program thought about content and how a headless CMS would serve their requirements. The structure of the content is defined and owned by the content management system, and so the workshops included discussion over what that content model would be and how it would streamline and centralise the content within their UX, CX and content teams. Through these workshops, themes were developed and the teams were able to ideate how they could use headless CMS in the future. The teams needed to be taken on the journey through a practical and technical lens before they could understand how to design content for a headless CMS.

The headless mindset

Understanding the headless mindset was especially important for government agencies that had large teams with varied interrelationships and team overlaps. Luminary outlined that the headless principles included:

  • Content should live within a central repository
  • Workflows, approvals and localisation are ideally centralised
  • Reusable content is extensible and future-proof
  • Content should not be designed for a specific purpose or channel
  • Each channel should be capable of interpreting content and its context and displaying it appropriately

These principles can often be contradictory to the way content teams believe content is created (for example, creating one piece of content for all channels) and so Luminary’s real-world examples and use case scenarios overlaid this with real-world examples and use case scenarios.

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The result

The OneCX Program needed to be taken on the journey through a practical and technical lens to better understand how to design content for a headless CMS. Throughout the project they were able to understand headless CMS as a concept, and then as an option for the nsw.gov.au website. Luminary’s highly relevant experience and breadth of knowledge brought the extensive list of stakeholders up to speed on headless CMS and in a position to make a decision on the future direction and best outcome of nsw.gov.au. Through tailored education and ideation workshops, NSW government agencies were able to enhance their OneCX project planning and better prepare for the next steps in the multi-year site migration.

“The recommendations in the documentation are well thought out and appreciated. They have given us some things to think about as we progress on our headless CMS journey. We appreciate the guidance Luminary has provided on this project.”
- Chris Wang, Senior Manager, Content, NSW Department of Customer Service

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