In response to a 2015 city council goal, the City of Salem is launching a new web site later this year. The newly designed site will be structured to be more intuitive, says Courtney Knox Busch, Strategic Initiatives Manager of the City Manager’s Office.
Intuitive site design means that the shape of the images, the colors used and the placement of links all follow simple rules that make them easy to recognize and navigate.
Salem residents have complained in the past that the current site, which may be understandable by City Hall insiders, can be confounding to visitors. The new site design is part of the city’s effort to seek more community involvement and participation in decision-making.
Intuitive design allows users to find the information they need without interruption or thought. Intuitive design is invisible; because when users see it, they immediately recognize how to access the data they want in an easy, consistent manner. This might include contact for a city department, the email address of a specific individual, a list of meetings of a particular commission, the features of a local park, or more.
“We’re looking at launching the new website in the fall of this year,” says Knox Busch. “There is much to do between now and then.”
The principles the city is using to guide the re-design include:
• Easy to Browse: lots of ways to get to the same information (one primary content page, multiple paths to get there)
• Easy to find: Simple to navigate, easy to find what you want – within two to three clicks; image-driven visual content
• Action-oriented: with interactive features (like paying a bill, checking in on permit status, finding a book on-line, etc.); using web analytics or metrics to gauge topics of most interest and feature those topics prominently
• Relevant Quality Content: featuring accurate, audience targeted, up-to-date, and easy-to-understand information
• Consistent message: one clear and concise voice across all content
• Mobile friendly: the same content regardless of the type of device (smart phone, tablet, desk top, etc.)
• Accessible to all: ADA design compatible content matches accessibility guidelines with quality translation to other languages available
City of Salem designers have studied numerous successful community websites, and like, for different reasons, those created for New York City, Palo Alto, Billings, the State of Utah, and Surrey, BC.