Residents of Orlando had difficulty accessing government services because the city’s website was hard to use and many of its online services were confusing. Residents often had to spend their time at city hall filling out forms or accessing services that were not available online. This inefficiency was frustrating and hurting city government’s relationship with citizens.
The Solution: Digital Service Academy
The city made it easier for residents to access essential city services online. City staff integrated the public’s feedback into new and existing digital services and online forms, making them more user-friendly and improving the city’s ability to respond to residents. As part of the process, the city launched the Digital Service Academy that taught city staff how to create and test user-centered digital services by putting citizen needs first.
How it Works
With strong support from the mayor, managers nominated staff members to attend the three-day Digital Services Academy. The academy helped participants integrate a user-centered design into city digital services related to their work.
- City staff began the three-day workshop by testing forms and online services created by other departments to understand the experience of residents and provide feedback.
- The newly formed Digital Platforms and Service Design team then helped city staff build services that put users’ needs first. This included rewriting text in plain language and building paper prototypes that simulated online forms.
- City staff went to a city park and asked residents to test their prototypes and provide feedback.
- The Digital Platforms team updated the online forms based on resident feedback. The improved forms went live on the city website the following week.
- The Digital Platforms team also held regular meetings with city staff to identify ongoing improvements and recruited residents to test services.
More than 100 staff members have participated in the Digital Services Academy and created 170 user-friendly online services. The city has also created a new website where citizens could more easily find and access services.
- Improvements thus far have included making it much easier for residents to report identity theft, build fences on their property, report a pothole, and contest a traffic ticket.
- More than 700 residents have volunteered to serve on a panel that provides additional feedback to the city via surveys and tests services as needed.
- Service satisfaction among residents has increased by 60%.
- The city has changed the culture of city hall to be user-centered and focused on understanding and responding to the needs of residents.