The City of Philadelphia has launched the new phila.gov website, a milestone in the multi-year effort to transform the site into a modern, flexible portal focused on improving the way residents interact with government services.
The redesign by the City’s Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation (ODDT) includes more than 300 City services on a single platform. With easy-to-read content and improved usability on mobile devices, the site provides greater accessibility and online transparency into how City services are delivered. The site features a user-friendly structure that lets residents find City programs, services, and announcements from many different pathways.
ODDT comprises a team of civic-minded designers, researchers, developers, and content strategists. “We know that providing a more effective digital platform will help the City better deliver services to residents,” said ODDT director Tim Wisniewski. “This work is part of the Administration’s overarching vision to make the City work better for those it serves.”
Features of the new phila.gov include:
- Simple, accessible language.
- Services and programs available from a global menu without having to dig into specific department pages.
- Improved usability on mobile devices, like smartphones.
- Departmental calendars that show upcoming events, including commission meetings.
- News and events, including spotlight events.
- Blog functionality.
“I’m delighted with the launch of the new website,” said Chief Administrative Officer Christine Derenick-Lopez. “It’s an essential component of the City’s broader digital strategy. Innovations like the new site vastly improve interactions between the City and all Philadelphians.”
Begun in late December 2014, the redesign has steadily evolved alongside the existing phila.gov website. Starting just six weeks after the project began, the team was rolling out new “alpha” pages and enabling site visitors to make comments and suggestions about the new design. By 2016, the site reached “beta” stage, accommodating more than 40 percent of web traffic. Throughout, the work has been a collaboration between ODDT and dozens of City departments.
Infrastructure improvements developed in collaboration with the Office of Innovation & Technology use cloud technology to provide better security and allow the website to accommodate more traffic. The new website is also cost effective and flexible, allowing departments to make timely updates to keep information current.
The new site also equips municipal government with the resources and capacity to deal with 21st-century challenges, like dramatic increases in web traffic, facing all governments at every level.
The Department of Revenue transitioned to the new website in 2016. “It’s been very gratifying to work with the Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation,” said Revenue Commissioner Frank Breslin. “Our website is now the backbone of our outreach efforts, allowing us to communicate faster and more clearly. Because of ODDT’s work, we’re helping taxpayers better understand their rights and responsibilities, more easily enroll in assistance programs, and pay their taxes on time.”
ODDT launched a site for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation earlier this year. “Our new site makes it much easier for the public to find the programs that they are looking for and to discover new Parks & Recreation programs, open spaces, and opportunities to get involved,” said Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell.
A dynamic News & Events section allows departments to communicate directly with their constituents, highlighting upcoming events and keeping them up to date on important developments. “June was Immigrant Heritage Month,” said Symbol Lai, deputy director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, “and this year we were happy to take advantage of a new site feature, the event spotlight. The spotlight gave us center stage to convey the excitement and share an events calendar for this month-long celebration highlighting immigrant communities, their stories, and their contributions to our city.”
Updates to the website will continue as the City transitions additional content from the City’s legacy site.