Cary, NC – This is the first article in our series of the new paradigm for redeveloping municipal websites. We will bring you stories of the innovative things people are doing in this space. First off is Philadelphia, PA.
Philadelphia, PA has started a redesign project of their municipal website and you can see the site as it develops by going to alpha.phila.gov. Philadelphia is using an open iterative process to first find out how their citizens use the website, then add some design and information elements and then evaluate through web analytics how successful they are at meeting the citizen’s needs.
There is a survey on the website that they want citizens to take. The survey asks questions about what devices and where the person uses to access the website, what types of typical municipal information the user needs to find and some demographics about their neighborhood, age and language spoken at home. It is refreshing to see a survey that identifies the user and their needs first rather than asking technical questions about website structure, layout and design that most people are unable to answer properly.
Check out the Philadelphia, PA alpha site and see how you like it and if you like the process they are using to redesign the site. If you find this interesting and useful, please talk to your elected officials to see if your Town or City can use a similar process for their website redesign.
YOUR NEEDS FIRST.
Instead of designing from our own assumptions, we will start with the needs of our neighbors, the residents of Philadelphia. We will learn how people want to use phila.gov through regular usability testing and our web analytics.
WORK IN SMALL CHUNKS.
Instead of designing the entire site up front, we will break down development into manageable, two week iterations. This agile process allows us to develop quickly and provides flexibility to adjust to user feedback and (inevitable) unforeseen issues.
BE OPEN AND INVITE PARTICIPATION.
Instead of working behind closed doors and making the public wait for a grand reveal, we will build out in the open. This is an experimental prototype, a work in progress. It’s missing content. Parts of it are confusing. The design needs work. And that’s the point. We’re starting here, knowing it’s not perfect, but with the means to continually make it better.