City launches redesigned website with easier navigation, access to more resources

Pat Loeb
August 14, 2018 - 3:41 pm
Chief Administrative Officer Christine Derenick-Lopez explains the City of Philadelphia government website redesign.

Pat Loeb | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Some 35,000 people a day use the Philadelphia city government website, and beginning Tuesday, they'll see a new homepage that officials promise will be easier to navigate and offer more information. 

The redesign, according to Chief Administrative Officer Christine Derenick-Lopez, "is about much more than making the site nicer to look at. It's about upgrading it and modernizing it. It's focusing on what you, our residents, need."

So, where the old site forced users to figure out which department offered which services to get information about them, the new homepage has links directly to the most-used features: find trash day, pay a bill, search for a property, explore city jobs.

Events are listed on department calendars and highlighted on an events page — also clickable from the homepage — which Symbol Lai, deputy director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, said is a huge improvement over her office's old system of listing them on a blog page that could run up to 14 pages long.

"On behalf of OIA and all the people who had to scroll through 14 pages for welcoming week last year, thank you, thank you so much," she said to the designers from the Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation.

The new site will seem familiar because it's been an option, as a beta site, to users of phila.gov for the past two years. Chief Data Officer Tim Wisniewski said the beta site been handling about 40 percent of web traffic.

"Launching early with the intention of continuously iterating allowed us to make improvements based on feedback," he added.

There was an emphasis on using simple, accessible language and making each separate department page more user-friendly.

Rebecca Lopez-Kriss from the Department of Revenue said the redesign has changed the way the department interacts with the public.

"Stressing clear language and meeting taxpayers where they are has become a fundamental tenet of not only our digital content but also our letters, our forms, our emails and in-person outreach," she said.

Some content is still being transferred, but plans are to decommission the old site within a year.