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Hawaii’s Official State Website Template

How Hawaii State Government has been using WordPress to launch over 450 websites since 2013.

Consistency. The purpose of the State Template project was to build websites that are accessible, usable and have a consistent design. By adhering to standards, we aimed to help citizens find what they’re looking for, efficiently and intuitively.

Our story begins prior to the summer of 2011, when the Aloha State had yet to appoint a CIO.  Chief Information Officer (CIO) is a job title commonly given to the person in an enterprise responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals. While there were several individuals acting in a CIO-like role, none had backing from the Governor or the authority to enforce statewide policies.  This all changed in 2012 when a new Sheriff arrived in town – and his name was Sonny Bhagowalia. Upon his arrival, HIC responded to a proposal to develop a new design template. It’s purpose – to establish a consistent look and feel across all government websites. With roughly 6 months to build and implement everything, and an ambitious goal of having all executive department sites converted by the start of the legislature session – we succeeded. As of Jan 01, 2013, 28 sites were launched and hosted in Hawaii’s public cloud.

As of 2017, we have over 80 WordPress installs, hosting more than 450 sites and all state agencies are now using WordPress.

All websites built using the state template are responsive and display beautifully across a variety of tablets and mobile devices, while continuing to meet strict ADA requirements and standards.

Prior to the redesign, the Hawaii executive agency sites were not mobile-friendly or action oriented. Most department sites had little if any Hawaiian imagery and few standards for contacts, design or structure. Division sites were migrated from servers that had little if any version or operating system consistency.

The move to WordPress gave us an opportunity to give the state department and division web-masters the control they desperately wanted without the enormous cost and training associated with a Commercial Enterprise CMS. The Open Source aspects of WordPress actually made it easier to develop and deploy new templates and enforce accessibility and style requirements regardless of the technical level of the specific webmaster.

Along the way, we have also been able to share the open source love by giving back to the community. Two custom plugins were created and are available for all in the WordPress plugin directory.

By using Open Source software, Hawaii has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars a commercial CMS would have cost.  The simple WordPress administration system made the administration of the sites incredibly simple, eliminating hundreds of hours of training. HIC estimates the total savings realized by leveraging Open Source CMS at about $1.3M and growing.


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