GovSite – a flexible WordPress theme developed by dxw

We’ve found that for many of our products, we’re asked to implement very similar features again and again. We also find that many of these clients have pretty limited budgets, which makes it difficult to follow the service design manual process. User research is often the first thing that gets cut, which isn’t ideal.

So, for the last few months, we’ve been working on a new product. We wanted to bring together the features that we’re most often asked for into a nicely branded, responsive, customisable theme that public sector teams can adapt for their needs. We’re releasing that theme today, GPL licenced, for anyone to use.

Over the next few months, we’ll be using this theme for some of our own client work, and we’ll be doing as much user testing as we can muster. Later in the year, we’ll be launching a product based on this theme which will give public sector teams hosted, managed GovSite sites at low cost – with a few extra features that the open source theme doesn’t have.

Main features

GovSite’s current features are:


GovSite contains four flexible page templates which let you choose the way you want to present content on your site. These include adding banners, embedding videos or Google maps, or simply displaying text with image in a more interesting and engaging way.

We’ve given the theme a clear and user focussed design is inspired by GOV.UK and accessibility best practice. It gives GovSite sites a professional, modern feel. The default WordPress widgets are also styled to match the overall theme design.

The project is built using SCSS that is compiled into a compiled CSS stylesheet. Colour variables can be modified to match the visual identity of any organisation. The theme allows branding customisation, so you can use your own organisation’s logo and favicon.

All templates are accessible to WCAG 2.0 AA standard which is required for government sites. They are also responsive and adapt to screen size to create great user experience on desktop, tablet and mobile.

GovSite is compatible with different browsers that are commonly used within public sector organisations. The theme supports IE7+ and the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

We’ve integrated social media into the site footer and made the links customisable: posts can easily be shared via Facebook, Twitter or email.

Because it’s for WordPress, content in GovSite is easy to manage. Human readable and search friendly URLs make your site easy for search engines to find. We have also built in the the Google Analytics code which you can modify by adding your tracking ID and monitor the traffic on the site.

For more details about customising the theme, please refer to the README file on GitHub.

GovSite Premium

When GovSite Premium launches, it’ll have a few extra features. There will be a built-in document repository that allows you to update, version and collaborate on documents, as well as an events calendar with Eventbrite integration and a customisable plugin for newsletter subscriptions.

GovSite Premium will be Software as a Service (SaaS); a fully hosted and maintained service with support from our developers. As we add new features they’ll be released to you instantly, at no extra cost.

As with everything we do, GovSite is based on user needs. But unlike most of our projects, it’s based on the user needs we see most often, rather than on talking to people about a specific project. This makes it especially important for us to get feedback from people who use this theme to get things done: if you find it useful (or if you don’t!) we’d love to hear from you.

To hear more about GovSite as things develop, you can sign up to the mailing list or follow us on twitter.