Update: City unveils its new online look at seattle.gov

ORIGINAL 10:33 AM REPORT: The mayor and city tech boss Bill Schrier (a West Seattleite) have just started a briefing on the new look of seattle.gov you can watch live above. Notes as we go. Key points: This is the result of a usability study; it streamlines “the interface to five portals instead of nine.” The search feature is stronger, Schrier explains. Also, the right-side links to elected officials, on the home page’s right side, will include their Facebook and Twitter links. There’s a dropdown toward the middle of the page to get you to the relatively new “My Neighborhood” maps, which include layers for 911 calls (not all “live” – there’s a few hours’ lag for police reports) and police reports.

(10:44 am) The mayor is noting that the new look does NOT run throughout all seattle.gov pages yet. Schrier says Knowledge As Power is the firm that has conducted a usability study that helped pave the way for some of the changes they made. He also notes there are 100,000 pages on the city website at the moment so “it will take a long time for us to circulate through (all the pages) to upgrade its look and feel.” The mayor says ask.seattle.gov will be launched in the future for people to post questions – and he says his office will monitor and forward questions to appropriate departments. He says he intends the web to be used more for engagement than to just “push information out to people.”

(10:49 am) Questions/answers now. We asked about personalization. Not yet, but my.seattle.gov is still in the works. Another question: Mobile “light” version of the site? Answer: Not yet. Question: Cost of this redesign? Answer: Less than $5,000 in outside resources (Knowledge As Power says their usability study cost the city less than $1K – their report’s been published online, reps from KAP just said).

(11:01 am) The mayoral media availability has now moved on to other Q/A which so far have included Fire Department staffing, the Viaduct questionnaire to be discussed by WSDOT this afternoon, and two City Council bills the mayor opposed.

(11:28 am) The briefing’s now completely concluded. When the video we streamed live earlier is available in archive, we’ll bring back the link. In the meantime, we had a few post-briefing chats: One reason the redesign didn’t include mobile is the cost, Schrier says – they’d made a budget request but it would have been more than $150,000.

9 Replies to "Update: City unveils its new online look at seattle.gov"

  • wally October 13, 2010 (11:36 am)

    McGinn is wondering how many ways we can raise taxes- I mean revenue.

  • chas redmond October 13, 2010 (12:44 pm)

    I find it curious that the city site would cost $150000 to create a mobile version – they are either using the wrong technology are ignoring a raft of methods which streamline existing HTTP/HTML content for mobile devices – Sad – and to think before I moved here the Seattle.gov site was one of the few truly informative city websites – that was in 2003 – apparently not much has changed in the intervening 7 years – including not integrating Mac OSX users into the GIS system – pathetic comes to mind for the level of effort and the number of concerned IT types. Color me UNIMPRESSED.

    • WSB October 13, 2010 (12:58 pm)

      Chas – there’s one thing about the city pages and mobile that didn’t come up, but I’ve noticed it – the city “blog” format sites that are on WordPress (like SPDBlotter http://spdblotter.seattle.gov ) do come up in mobile format – much like the WSB iPhone version – when I access them from the phone. But that doesn’t include a gateway to the main content, of course – TR

  • marco October 13, 2010 (1:07 pm)

    Also funny that they are using bing for “My Neighborhood Map”, which doesn’t even have our 5 year old “new” street… http://web5.seattle.gov/mnm/

    • WSB October 13, 2010 (1:46 pm)

      Keep the feedback coming – I don’t think I’ve added this to the story yet, but Bruce Blood, the city’s Web manager, is a West Seattleite and WSB’er, he told me, and is very interested in feedback …

  • cjboffoli October 13, 2010 (1:44 pm)

    How nice it was to see our fearless editor on live TV for a few seconds there.

  • Sarah Schacht October 13, 2010 (3:59 pm)


    Just a small correction to the story:

    Knowledge As Power is not a “firm” we’re a 501c3 nonprofit organization who put together a low cost (but still insightful) usability study of Seattle.gov.

    We did it because we believe making government sites USEFUL makes government more transparent and accessible for residents.

    We’ve published the summary study this morning:



  • MJ October 13, 2010 (4:08 pm)

    I can’t speak to the appropriateness of the technology the city does (or doesn’t) use, not being technically inclined. I will say that I personally find the new site easy to navigate. Right away I found a few key things I use frequently accessible from the homepage which is nice. I think for a project of this size, with so many users to please, they did a fine job.

  • Steve October 13, 2010 (9:14 pm)

    Thanks Bruce Blood and team. I’m sure this was not easy to accomplish.

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