Boston Launches Pilot Version of Its Revamped City Website

Boston City Hall

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Connecting state and local government leaders

Newly designed topic pages combine information from across departments in attempt to mirror users’ thinking.

An overhaul of the city of Boston’s website took a significant step forward on Thursday when a pilot version of it went live for the public.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh hailed the website launch as “an exciting chapter in the redesign.” The pilot site, pilot.boston.gov, is intended to provide residents a preview of the fresh website design, and is also meant to encourage feedback as a full-scale version of the new Boston.gov is developed.

“We want to give the people of our City a look at the work we’re doing and a voice in the process,” Walsh said in a statement on Wednesday.

An objective of the redesign is to make it easier for users to find the information they’re looking for on the site. One way the city hopes to do this is by organizing content under topics. The topics are aimed at mirroring the way a person might think when visiting the website.

This means that related information from numerous city departments might be grouped under a single topics page. Three topics featured on the pilot site on Thursday were “Starting a Business,” “Having a Car in the City” and “Winter is Coming.”

(City of Boston)

The Having a Car in the City page included links to information and online services dealing with areas such as paying parking tickets, retrieving towed cars and updating parking permits.

Links to information and services on the pilot site currently lead back to the existing city website, cityofboston.gov, which will remain live while the redesign is carried out.

The fully revamped Boston.gov site is expected to go live later this year.

But in an interview with Route Fifty last fall, Boston’s chief digital officer, Lauren Lockwood, noted that the new website would continue to evolve even after it’s launched.

“What you have to remember is, while there is a date when we’ll flip the switch on the new Boston.gov, we’re sort of moving away from the process of a grand redesign that we launch, then let decay over time,” Lockwood said. “To one where we have it grow, change and adapt to user preferences.”

Bill Lucia is a Reporter for Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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