How Philadelphia is bringing human-centered design to its website

Name: Sara Hall

Title: Product Manager, Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation

City: Philadelphia

Project: Overhauling phila.gov

As cities put the principles of “human-centered design” to work, one of the first places they start is on their websites. For Philadelphia, that means orienting the city’s home page squarely around the most common things residents want to know: When is trash pickup? How do I pay a bill? Are the trains on time today? As the user-experience designer in charge of overhauling the city’s websites, Sara Hall is working with her team of developers and designers to do just that. “We’ve been trying to organize it in a way that residents in Philadelphia would really understand,” she said. For example, Hall’s team discovered that the Parks and Recreation Department had data on all events and activities around the city, but had no public-facing hub for it. So they designed an activity finder, which allows residents to search the whole database. Now that some aspects of the new city website are up and running, Hall’s next step is to go to residents, get feedback on the new designs, and make changes based on community feedback. “We want to meet people where they are,” she said. “Which is why testing is so important — it doesn’t slow things down, it makes the product better.”

“Design for your audience. Figuring out who these people are and understanding their needs is the best way to create the most sustainable products that exist.”

Celebrating public sector progress and innovation in cities around the world. Run by @BloombergDotOrg’s Government Innovation program. bloombergcities.org

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