A new City website requires more than code.

Photo by  Anastasia Petrova  on  Unsplash

The City of Burien is a quickly growing city who recently engaged in a large web re-design project that included an examination of their online presence and content.

As the City has and continues to grow, so does their online and digital presence.  While their current website design was outdated, so was their content and grasp of what integrated technology each department was utilizing for internal and external communication and engagement.  Like many emerging organizations, their systems and workflows had grown organically among departments and as a result were disjointed and not married into one cohesive online strategy with a consistent voice.   

In tandem with the City’s web re-design project, we helped the city establish a cohesive digital strategy across all departments, consulted and assisted with updating their web content to align with their strategy, and assisted with overall implementation.

Establishing a guiding digital strategy

Getting all the City of Burien departments on the same page was step one. We met with department leads to understand their communication and data needs, identify what technology each department was using and the associated workflows. With the information we collected, we outlined the City’s digital ecosystem so leadership could understand what technologies were used in each department and what purpose those technologies served in communicating data to City residents.  From there, we looked to see where we could consolidate some of those systems and workflows so the City was efficient and consistent in the tech they were using across departments. Then, we established the need for policies to guide the adoption and use of these technologies so departments could continue to work toward a common goal. We also helped establish a strategy for content that is consistent with the City of Burien’s mission/vision and brand and set policies and workflows guiding content production and maintenance over time.

Bringing together the digital ecosystem, streamlined workflows, policies, and content strategy, we delivered an overarching strategy document titled, “Data and Communications Infrastructure Strategy”  that will serve as a road-map for the next 5-7 years on how the City of Burien may best communicate and deliver information to residents, in a clear and efficient manner.

Utilizing the finalized strategy, we ran a complete audit of the City’s existing web content, assets, and 3rd party integrations and created a new Information Architecture/Site Map designed to help users locate important information quickly, efficiently, and intuitively.

Aligning content with strategy

In order to align the data and content across City departments with the strategy put forth, we examined the city's existing web content, assets, and 3rd party integrations and created a new Information Architecture/Site Map. We consulted and collaborated with key staff and leadership through interviews and workshops to ensure buy-in and understanding of the changes in both the presentation and workflow of content. From there, we outlined a plan to help City departments bring their content and integrated 3rd party systems  up to date, so all content migrated into the new site was consistent in presentation and voice.

Putting it all in motion

Let’s be real, City staff are busy - RUNNING AN ENTIRE CITY!  Updating crucial website content while adapting to new workflow processes is an arduous task within of itself, add on a staff’s day-to-day responsibilities and this process can easily get off the rails. Without strong project management and leadership for implementation, all of the careful planning and strategizing would be done in vein.

In an effort to alleviate workloads while marching through implementation, we took the lead on guiding staff through the process. We project managed content collection and creation, a complex and detailed process considering the many departments and City personnel involved.  We also assisted with writing content for landing pages and providing guidance to staff where necessary. Finally, we took all of the content that was collected and updated and organized it into the format needed for migration to the new re-designed website.

The end result

We know all too well that a new shiny website with bright colors and images will not solve all issues an organization may have communicating and distributing information to its end users.  The City of Burien knew their web-redesign project was an opportunity for a refreshed look and feel to their brand, as well as an opportunity to reign in their digital communication strategy.  The groundwork laid through this work will allow the City to build on and refine their strategy over time, rather than having to spend time and resources to wrangle the associated loose ends a few years after the launch of their new website.  

If you take the time to get your organization on the same page about the technologies departments are utilizing, establish org-wide policies to be cohesive and consistent, and carefully implement the plans you crafted, you will reap the highest return on any investments made to your online and technological infrastructure.  

If your organization is embarking on a web re-design or considering your digital strategy, we would love to help you plan, implement and execute! Please drop us a line at connect@parallelpublicworks.com or call at 206.755.3814.