City of Surrey

Our long-term partnership with the City of Surrey has helped them transform their government into a citizen-centred, web-first organization.

Our partnership

How it began

Yellow Pencil first partnered with the City of Surrey in 2010. We were instantly smitten with this dynamic, growing city and their forward-thinking government.

They started with a website that couldn't communicate the value, strengths and opportunities the city had to offer. Feedback showed that users couldn't complete their tasks or find the information they wanted from their government.

But more than that, the City government wasn't set up to deliver the online services their citizens needed. They didn't have the systems, processes, training, or resources to keep up with demand as their city exploded in growth. They were ready to transform their organization.

So we started from the ground up. We didn't just build a new website – we helped the City of Surrey change how they operate. We introduced new organizational charts, made hiring recommendations, and helped the City plan their staff training and skill development.

Since then

The City of Surrey has become a truly web-first organization. Our work helped transform how this dynamic city communicates and does business with its citizens and stakeholders online. We’ve seen staggering results in the last five years, and our partnership continues to blossom as this growing city opens its wings.

City of Surrey in a nutshell

  • Incorporated in 1879
  • Second largest city in BC
  • 12th largest city in Canada with a population of over 468,000
  • Set to become the most populated city in Metro Vancouver by 2020
  • One of the youngest and most culturally diverse cities in Canada
  • Over 6000 acres of parkland and green space give it the name “City of Parks"

The results (so far)

Here are just some of the results we’ve seen since we started working with the City of Surrey in 2010:

  • 350% increase in year over web traffic in first year after the 2010 re-launch
  • City of Surrey was awarded the UBCM Award of Excellence for Best Practices, the GTEC award for Best Municipal Web Project, international awards for digital communication, and provincial awards for social media
  • Launched one of the first large-scale responsive websites on the OpenText Web Site Management CMS
  • Development of an industry-leading web team within Surrey, an award-winning practice in online communication, and better alignment throughout business areas, IT, and communication
  • New content style guide and optimized content creation workflow
  • Trained 200+ content authors and edited 7000+ pages of web content

Elections 2014 microsite

When it came time for the 2014 City of Surrey municipal election, the City Manager's office wanted to help citizens get involved and stay informed no matter what platform they used. Our research showed that voters see the City as a trusted information source for their election news, and want the City election website to be their information hub when it comes time to vote.

We built a responsive election microsite on OpenText Web Site Management CMS that helps the City integrate news and updates from all over the web. Social media feeds, news, and candidate-sponsored content can all be found in one place. We also expanded the City's visual identity, and introduced some fresh new design elements to appeal to Surrey's young voter population.

City of Surrey elections website homepage City of Surrey elections website timeline
City of Surrey elections website candidate listing City of Surrey elections website results listing

City council e-bulletin board

City Council works hard for the people of Surrey. There are always a million things on the go that need feedback and support – but how to get the word out? Before this project, City Council was updating Surrey residents with a bulletin board and printed paper notices (which was just as cumbersome as it sounds).

We worked with the City Manager's office and the City of Surrey web team to create an e-bulletin board that makes keeping residents in the loop a breeze. It integrates with their existing website content management system, making for easy information sharing and re-use across platforms. Now Surrey residents can get up-to-the-minute updates from their City council, and City Hall staff save precious time and resources.

City of Surrey city council e-bulletin board

OpenText data centre migration

We migrated all of the City of Surrey's web environments to a brand new, ever more secure data centre, giving the Surrey team better uptime, more advanced server infrastructure, and even more security.

Enhanced Google Analytics integration

City of Surrey Google Analytics integration

A website is only as good as the data that helps us improve it. The City of Surrey web team needed more insight into how their website was performing. We built customized fully-integrated Google Analytics reporting right into their CMS, so they can see how content and functionality changes impact their users.

Elections 2011 microsite

With a high-profile municipal election coming up, the Surrey City Manager needed an online home for candidates and election news. We designed and built an Elections microsite that hosted video interviews and biographies of each candidate, and let voters get involved by commenting and sharing their views.

Best of all, it helped voters get to the polls with a polling station finder web application, and live-updated election results as they happened on election day. The public stayed informed and involved every step of the way.

City of Surrey 2011 election results tracker

Improved events calendar

There's lots going on at the City of Surrey. Art gallery openings, theatre shows, parks, playgrounds, classes, swimming lessons – how to keep up? We custom-built an events calendar that lets Surrey residents find the right event for them. They can sort events by date, location, or type. It's perfectly integrated with their website content management system, so content can be easily shared between web properties.

City of Surrey city council e-bulletin board
City of Surrey city council e-bulletin board

OpenText municipal website redesign

This was our first giant step after we completed the City of Surrey digital strategy. We pruned thousands of unnecessary content pages from, and completely redesigned the look and feel of four different web properties. We introduced a new content management system that helped the new Surrey web team update the website quickly and easily. We migrated over 20,000 documents to the new system, trained over 200 staff, and took over all their website hosting. And best of all? We did it all in less than eight months.

City of Surrey website homepage 2009 City of Surrey kids website 2009
City of Surrey website landing page 2009 City of Surrey website recreation 2009

E-recreation mobile application

We created a mobile application to help Surrey residents find and register for recreation activities from the comfort of their mobile device. Signing your kid up for swimming lessons has never been easier – now you just have to convince them to go.

Digital strategy

The City of Surrey digital strategy is the foundation of all our work. City staff knew the web was the future of government service delivery. They also knew they didn't have the infrastructure or staff ready to support it – not yet. They wanted to understand the best way to get started, and they needed a structured, prioritized roadmap to take them where they wanted to go.

We met with every department at the City of Surrey to map out their processes, pain points, successes, and goals. After months of interviews, we created a plan of action that encompassed their entire organization – from organizational charts to staff training, server infrastructure, and everything in between. The digital strategy let the City plan their resourcing and budgets for years to come, and gave them all the steps they needed to take them into the future.

We changed Surrey’s web world for the better. We can help change yours.

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