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4. Configure and launch your online engagement

You need to set up your tools so they match your objectives. You can try a test run and even a soft launch.

Configure your online engagement tools

After you have selected your tools you will need to set them up, add your content and get ready for launch.

Here is a checklist of things to consider when setting up your tools for online engagement.


  • Does the project need its own brand?
  • How does this brand align with and reflect the corporate brand?
  • Consider the all-of-government brand policy and guidelines.
    All-of-government brand
  • If you need a domain name specifically for your engagement project then apply for a Domain Name before deciding on a particular brand for your engagement.
    Government domain name system (DNS) service
  • How will the platform, project website integrate or fit within with your corporate website? Does it need to? What are the implications for your users?

Designing for users

  • Make the interface engaging and usable.
  • Use responsive design so people can engage with you equally no matter what device they use.
    Writing for responsive design — blog post 
    Responsive web design: a case study — blog post
  • Make sure you have considered the service design guidelines.
    Service design
  • Consider your users' experience.
  • Consider the project's policies and procedures.
    Plan your online engagement
  • What is the user journey? How do you expect them to travel through the content/site? Have you made it easy for them to do what you need them to do?
  • Consider the type of engagement: Are you trying to encourage deliberation? Or seek feedback?
  • Consider how to overcome potential barriers to engagement.
  • User access – roles within the team.
  • Hardware for events:
    • Do you need offline access/cache?
    • Wifi – cellular?
  • Accessibility: designing for inclusion
    • How will you integrate online and offline forms of engagement to ensure consistent engagement with people who have limited access to the internet?
    • Is your platform mobile accessible?
    • Have you complied with the Government Web Accessibility Standard and Web Usability Standard?
  • Do you also need to configure a back end for moderation and data management?

Social media integration

  • What social media account will you use and integrate with during this engagement?
  • Where will you place icons and share buttons – home page, pages, at content?
  • Make content sharable – configure tweets and posts with references to your brand so they can be tracked.
  • Do you want to embed a twitter feed in your engagement? Should it show your tweets only, tweets to your account or be hashtagged?

Security and privacy

  • How will you ensure privacy requirements are met?
  • Define user access for members of the team – edit, view, publish, export of data, recipients of reports, customised dashboards.
  • How will you test and launch engagement – do you need a development site or protected environment?
  • What is your go-live processes?
  • Have you had a legal review of your privacy statement? Is it in plain language?
  • Have you conducted a security review of the platform?

Integration of platforms

  • How will you integrate the online engagement method into your site?
    • If you are using an iframe is it secure?
    • Will systems be networked or stacked? Do they need to be? Can they be?
    • Do the systems you’re using have APIs? Can you get one?
  • If you have to create outputs from systems to input into others:
    • What will the process be?
    • How will you ensure data is formatted for collation to reduce the effort for data analysis?
  • If you have references in your online engagement ensure all hyperlinks are live.


  • Set analytics to meet your criteria.
  • Ensure all metrics you want to measure are covered.
  • Configure reports and establish reporting process.

Content development

  • You want to have engaging content that uses accessible and plain language.
  • Design for the platform.
  • Create sharable content.

Questionnaire tools

  • What are your questions?
  • Have you embedded the right logic in survey – for example, only display follow-up questions when needed?
  • What are the export functions?
  • How will you configure outputs?

Question design

  • Determine your questions.
  • Is it possible to have consistent questions across platforms?
  • Is your engagement deliberative – how do questions reflect content?
  • What other data do you need to gather?

Event tools

  • Do you want people to register and RSVP for events online?
  • How will this system integrate with how you track communications, issues and relationships?
  • How will you collect feedback at events?
  • Do you want to ask questions of participants when they register for events?
  • Do you need hardware? Is it set up? Tested?
  • How will you send follow-up emails to participants?

Submission tools

  • How will submissions be collected?
  • What personal data are you collecting and how will you ensure it is managed in accordance with your policy, the Privacy Act 2020, and the Privacy Commissioner's information privacy principles?
    Privacy Commissioner's information privacy principles
  • How will you acknowledge receipt of submissions?
  • Publishing process:
    • What is required for internal tracking of submissions?
    • Will you publish them?
    • Will you notify the stakeholder that their submission has been published?
    • How will you remove personal details if a stakeholder does not want them published – for example, redaction?

Online discussion and idea sharing tools

  • Plan your publishing processes.
  • How will you acknowledge input?
  • What is your moderation and response policy and procedure?
  • What is your issues and risk management procedure?

Ways to acknowledge input

  • Pop-up box on receipt.
  • Automated email reply on receipt or publication.
  • Live publishing.

Issues, information management and analysis processes

  • How will you track and manage issues?
    • Can you get an overview of issues at any time? Across platforms? Do you need a dashboard?
    • Can you create geographic profiles – of stakeholders, issues?
    • Can you report issues across engagement activities/events?
  • Collating data and analysis:
    • Do systems have API feeds to collate data?
    • How will you digitise submissions collected offline?
    • Can you set up a consistent format for outputs for all systems collecting data?
    • What is your procedure to collate all outputs from all systems collecting data?
    • What is your criteria for analysis?
    • Will some input be weighed differently?
    • How will you apply your policy for formal, informal and social input?
  • Information management:


  • How will you report internally?
    • What types of reports are required? Consider criteria and format.
    • Will you set up automated reports? Consider your audience and criteria.
    • Do you or others need a live dashboard?
  • How will you report publicly?
    • Will you publish summaries of feedback live?
    • How will you report progressively?
    • What will your consultation report look like?

Communication and relationship management

  • How will you manage and collate personal data/stakeholder records?
  • How will you track communication online and offline?
    • Can you enter records of contact?
    • Do systems collecting data feed into your relationship management system?
  • How will you track stakeholder relations?
    • Can you create user profiles? Can they self-manage?
    • Can you categorise stakeholder types or interests?
    • Can you create geographical profiles of stakeholders?

Try a test run

We usually engage when an issue is hard or political, and even though many of us have been trialling technologies for engagement it's still a relatively new practice. So start small: try a test run and consider a ‘soft launch’.

Test runs are great at building the confidence and trust of your project team and internal stakeholders. Give them access to your development or test environment to participate for an hour or so. You could also include a small sample of external stakeholders to ensure it meets their needs too. This can also help your team test out their procedures.

During or after your test run, ask stakeholders who participated to provide you with feedback about their experience and do your best to incorporate changes where needed.

Consider a soft launch

Before launching your online engagement publicly it can also be useful to invite trusted stakeholders to participate ahead of the general public.

This is an excellent way to show that you value their opinion. Your stakeholders will appreciate the opportunity to see information first and provide you with feedback. If you are publishing comments this will also help populate and stimulate discussion, making the site more engaging for the stakeholders who follow.

If you don't feel comfortable inviting stakeholders to participate in your soft launch, consider inviting some peers.

Don’t forget to add your engagement project to the consultations listing on consultations listing

Utility links and page information

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