City Launches New Round of Website Upgrades

Published on November 20, 2019

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(November 20, 2019 - Miami, FL) - This week, City of Miami technologists unveiled a new round of website improvements to www.miamigov.com, utilizing online feedback and user testing to further improve the customer experience. The upgrades build on the “24-7 City Hall” website philosophy that was launched in January 2019, following more than a decade without site upgrades. The latest improvements include a growing array of simplified online services, a refreshed design, easier site navigation and a new “dark mode”.

“‘Government’ and ‘innovation’ are words that haven’t often been used in the same breath, but this administration has made it our priority to drive innovation into every facet of the City of Miami’s work,” said City Manager Emilio T. Gonzalez. “Our IT professionals are meeting this charge, and the latest upgrades to our public-facing web portal bring government even closer to those we serve.” 

Following Miamigov.com’s January re-launch, the City has redoubled its efforts to improve the website by adding significant new digital service content. The site now offers more than 175 services online – with a goal of 200 by January, 2020 – ranging from getting fence permits, to becoming a firefighter, to starting new garbage service, to getting a warrant and applying for a job with the City. Extensive user testing over the past several months has played a large role in the latest round of website improvements.

“Government websites today are not like government websites of the past: they need to be constantly changing and evolving, just like the overall digital marketplace,” says Mike Sarasti, Director of the City’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT). “Users expect a fresh look, content updates, attention to detail and reactions to feedback, all of which we are happy to provide and proud to roll out with this refreshed design.” 
 
The City has conducted widespread user testing with partners such as Wyncode, Support Local and Code for Miami, and gathered daily online feedback to determine what parts of the new website have been most helpful to users, and what can still be improved. Through this research, the web team proposed and rolled out updates including:

  • A new header layout to bring search functionality front and center across the user experience (desktop + mobile);
  • Tightened landing pages providing an easier and quicker interface for users;
  • Cleaner navigation and quick links for the mobile experience;
  • Drastically reduced ‘scrolling’ so page content is easily viewed as a whole.
  • A refined color palette to brighten the  aesthetic and a more readable font;
  • New header images to better showcase Miami with “time of day” functionality;
  • An updated logo; and,
  • A new “dark mode”

The DoIT team has also worked with various City departments to create supplementary instructional guides. One such guide, “How to Start a Business in The City of Miami”, was designed as a combined effort between The City’s web team,  Zoning Department, Finance Department, and Code Compliance. In line with Mayor Francis Suarez’s "Pathway to Prosperity" focus, the group has been working to streamline the process for establishing new businesses, particularly in the small business category.
 
The Mayor set a goal for entrepreneurs to be able to complete forms and City tasks for opening a business directly from their mobile devices, and DoIT has been pursuing this goal. Using data from thousands of applicants, they identified where applicants most often make a mistake or experience a delay in the process. The content and design teams then used that data to create clear, visually-friendly instructions, warnings against common missteps, and detailed processes to help applicants open their business more quickly and with less headache.

All of The City’s website efforts support a “Build with, not for” co-design model, and allow users, process owners, civic partners and technologists to collaborate.  The IT Department also scrutinized back-end analytics to determine which pages were being viewed the most, which topics might need additional organization, and which search terms were most popular.