Content and Information Architecture Specification

To provide a consistent online experience for Canadians, the Directive on the Management of Communications (Appendix D) requires that Government of Canada departments and agencies manage and create digital content using this design framework.

The framework provides user-tested templates, common design patterns, and models for navigation and information architecture. Use them to present and organize your web content so that users can find what they are looking for.

Some elements of this framework are mandatory. Other templates and design patterns are conditional. This means they are only mandatory in specific situations. All designs have been user-tested, and perform well with the public. We update this framework regularly if usability testing sheds light on an improvement we can make.

Each template or pattern includes instructions for when to use it. Within each, elements are marked as mandatory, conditional, or optional. This gives you flexibility to select elements that make sense. Content Style Guide: use the style guide when developing and updating web content.

Version 1.5


Table of contents

Summary of changes

Here are the changes we made to this version of the specification.


  • improved readability of several sections
  • clarified which elements are mandatory
  • removed references to the Managed Web Service and Web renewal initiative

Usage of

  • clarified that is the overall Government of Canada web presence
  • moved this section at the beginning of the document
  • clarified which departments must follow this framework

Design principles

  • removed the Design principles section – soon to be available under About

Conceptual overview of user navigation and key templates

  • changed the URL model to give clarifications for institutions that are not using the Managed Web Service

Headers, footers and navigation

  • modified guidance on Date modified, to clarify that it can be changed to signify that the content was fully reviewed and is valid

Templates and detailed specifications

  • home page: replacement of the home page carousel by the home page feature
  • all templates: removal of the Government of Canada activities and initiatives
  • clarified when "Most requested" and "What we are doing" is mandatory

Common design patterns

  • added a filterable table
  • institutional byline: changed the label
  • renamed promotional feature tiles to context-specific features and added an option for a single promotion on destination pages
  • social media: clarification to allow RSS feeds

Performance requirements

  • clarified max page size and max load time

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the President of the Treasury Board, 2017,
ISBN: 978-0-660-09331-4

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: