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Developing a Better City Website by Engaging Our Users

Share your input on city website online or at Aug. 9 open house

What if the City of Boulder website was as easy to use as the websites you love most? What if the website was made just for you?

The city is working to improve by better understanding your needs – and the needs of other users – so it can better serve them.

The website, which receives roughly 8 million pageviews a year, is the city’s primary platform for information and services. The current city website was launched in 2013 and needs to be updated.

The city engaged a consultant in May 2018 to help develop a plan to make the website faster and easier for the public to navigate. Here’s a quick look at work currently underway by the City of Boulder to make systematic, measurable improvements to the current city website and lay the groundwork for a new city website in the future.

Listen to our users

User input is crucial for making the city website better and feedback is being collected a variety of ways. You’re invited to a Website Improvement Project Open House on Aug. 9 to share feedback on the website and how it can better serve your needs.

You can also provide feedback on the city website online. City staff have also spent time in the public speaking with community members about the website and will continue to do so as part of this project.

Identify priority areas for improvement

From paying a utility bill to finding a trail, the city has used survey and web traffic data to identify the most common reasons people visit the city website. The City of Boulder plans to prioritize improvements to the most popular pages and services – and ensure it is easy to find them.  

The city is also working to inventory all of its web content and e-services, audit them and prioritize improvements to them. The city has nearly 5,000 webpages, so it is using tools to scan the website to identify calls to action, related content and potential technical issues.

Put the website to the test

The City of Boulder has been conducting user testing where Boulder residents are asked to complete common tasks on the website. These test help determine how long it takes to complete a task or find specific information.

The city is developing a new system for organizing content on its website, testing it and then refining it to increase success rates with tasks and decrease the amount of time it takes to complete them. Interested community members can volunteer to participate in user testing. The city is also testing different terminology to understand which words best help people find information they’re seeking on the website.

Measure progress

Recent visitors to the city website may also have noticed a pop-up box that asks if they found what they were looking for online. The city has collected thousands of responses through these forms already. This information helps the city identify issues to address, but also helps provide baseline data about how well the current website is meeting the needs of users.

Users of the city website self-report that they find what they are looking for about 70 percent of the time. This benchmark, along with others, will be used to measure the effectiveness of changes to the website.

Understand why people are calling

The City of Boulder invited more than 140 staff this summer to meet in small groups to discuss the website, their goals for it and ways it can be improved. The city engaged different staff groups, but put a strong emphasis on administrative and frontline staff.

Information collected about the calls, emails and walk-in traffic the city commonly receives from the public will help identify ways the website can better meet customer service needs and reduce staff time.

Implement improvements and iterate

The city will complete initial research and stakeholder engagement on its website by September. The City of Boulder has been and will continue to implement improvements to the current website based on the findings. The city hopes these iterative improvements will make the website easier to use for the public.

This project will result in a new information organization and navigation system that improves the current website while laying the groundwork for a new website. The city hopes that will result in a website that better serves you -- and our entire community.

To learn more about the project, visit the Website Improvement Project Open House on Aug. 9 or visit the project webpage.