Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the launch of Boston.gov, the redesigned digital front door for the City of Boston on Wednesday.
The website features significant changes to the visual design, organization and underlying technology of the City’s website.
“The launch of the new website marks a meaningful step in making the City’s digital services accessible for all,” said Mayor Walsh. “Whether you’re a college student moving into a new apartment or a small business owner, our goal is to provide a website that is welcoming and user-friendly to all who visit. As a City, we are always striving to set new standards and strive for excellence, and we look forward to continuing to build Boston.gov together.”
The new site was designed with accessibility at the forefront. More than 20,000 web pages and one million words were rewritten to make the site easier to understand and navigate. The City has made dramatic changes to improve ADA compliance, and Boston.gov is now also optimized for any device and screen size.
In order to build a website that reflects the needs of a large and diverse community, the City relied heavily on input from a wide variety of residents. A pilot version of the website, launched in early January, allowed the City to conduct rigorous user testing, including in-person conversations, focus groups, and surveys with residents.
“Boston is a leader in digital innovation and our residents expect great service from their City government, whether they interact online or in person,” said Chief Information Officer Jascha Franklin-Hodge. “This project aims to meet these expectations by providing government digital services on par with those provided by leading private sector companies.”
The new Boston.gov showcases many notable changes, including:
- Design: Boston.gov features a new brand and visual identity for the City of Boston. The brand guidelines for the new site has also been made publicly available.
- Content organization: Rather than organize information primarily by department, the new site allows users to access information through “guides”, which feature curated content based on how a resident thinks about an issue, such as moving or owning a car.
- Language: Content throughout the site has been re-written in a more welcoming, human tone.
- Technology: The site is built on Drupal, an open source content management system which allows the City to utilize a large ecosystem of developers to adapt the site to users’ changing needs. Boston.gov is also being hosted in the cloud to provide a more secure and reliable experience for users.
“Building a website that is welcoming, beautiful, and thoroughly useful has been a priority for our team from the start,” said Chief Digital Officer Lauren Lockwood. “That philosophy will inform all decisions as we continue to improve the site.”
The City will be making the roadmap for their website development public at roadmap.boston.gov. There, the public is encouraged to submit their ideas for the future of Boston.gov as well as vote on suggestions from others.
The redesign was led by the City’s Digital Team in partnership with IDEO, an award-winning global design firm, and Boston-based Acquia, a leading local technology provider.
“Our work with the City of Boston was an exciting opportunity to not only redesign their site, but to fundamentally change the engagement and connection city government can have with its constituents,” said Michelle Kwasny, Senior Design Research Lead at IDEO.