NYC On-Demand: Bridging the communication gap between the NYC government and its citizens

Local governments are responsible for shaping policies and programs that directly affect citizens. But with more than 89,000 local governments in the United States with no standardized way of communicating with citizens, it is often difficult for citizens to receive important updates, understand how their elected officials are working for them and find crucial information related to their local government.

Discover

•Exploratory Market Research
•Competitive Analysis
•Survey
•User Interviews

Define

•Affinity Diagram
•Problem Statement
•Design Principles
•Persona
•User Stories
•User Scenarios

Develop

•Low Fidelity Wireframes
•Low Fidelity Prototype
•Concept Testing
•Priority Matrix

Deliver

•Site Map
•Wireframe Kit
•Mid Fidelity Wireframes
•Mid Fidelity Prototype
•Usability Test Results
•Annotated Wireframes
•Future Recommendations

In order to gain a better understanding of the industry, our target audience and the structures, features and content of civic sites, we conducted exploratory research and a competitive analysis of websites that provided information pertaining to the New York government.

We focused mainly on sites where one could find information about New York. This included the New York City site, New York state site, Rochester site as well as the New York Times and Twitter.

The 311 section is one of the many groups of categories on the site. It shows numerous high level categories

NYC.gov is the main government site used to access information about New York City. In order to cater to the population of 8.3 million people, the site must cover a wide variety of information. In order to make information easier to find, it is split up into categories and then further categorized into subcategories. Important information, however, becomes buried and can take several clicks to find.

The New York state site covers a more higher level of state related stuff rather than city specific. Like NYC.gov, information gets buried deep beneath menus. In some cases, important information is almost impossible to find and not where one would expect it

Information on Absentee ballots took several clicks to get to and was found under the governor section. With the election coming up, it would be more intuitive to be on the front page

Next we conducted user research which included a survey to help narrow down the target audience as well as user interviews to gain insight into NYC resident's personal experiences with civic data

We surveyed 109 people over the age of 18 who either lived in New York or commuted. I spoke to 3 out of the 9 people interviewed who were recruited from reddit and social media. Interviews were remote and conducted over Zoom. Interview and the survey included questions about the following

Define

My teammates and I held an affinity diagram session to map out information from our research points and analyzed and synthesized our data into insights. We further grouped those insights together and came up with five actionable insight statements

Government sites are distasteful because they are aesthetically outdated

Users like to know up to date information but the government doesn't give out relevant notifications or keep presented information updated

Users want to be more involved in their local community but the amount of information is overwhelming and difficult to find

Users prefer to access government information from sources other than government sites because they are organized in simpler ways and terms

Users want more accessible and engaging ways to interact with the government so their voice can be heard



Elena, our persona, was created based on the synthesized findings and research on the target audience in order to help humanize and create empathy for the users

By creating user stories, we were able to put the needs and desired outcome of the users into focus to help determine functionality

Develop

The user stories guided us into coming up with three task flows to explore different solutions by creating divergent concepts

Out of several rounds of sketchstorming, this flow was chosen and iterated on as the mid fidelity prototype
My designated task focused on contacting a government official. I began by sketch-storming some ideas, eventually evolved into a mid fidelity prototype created in Figma

Although officials have their own feeds for users to follow, users cannot like or comment on content in order to maintain credibility as Government Communication

The user should receive a reply from the official or someone from their administration within to time stated. If delayed, they would receive a notification to keep them let them updated

In order to evaluate our divergent concepts and begin to converge ideas, my team held a Priority Matrix Workshop in order to determine what was most important for the MVP

We focused mostly on including information in the top right quadrant as that was the highest priority. Anything in the yellow closest to the edge was deemed the next most important and included for the most part.

Deliver

We created a site map that outlined the information architecture of the site as well as the blueprint to guide in creation of the converged prototype.

The prototype focuses on the most prominent screens as well as some of the main functioning that was needed to conduct usability testing. However, with much still left nonfunctional, we found that some users may have a hard time with navigation, especially those who were unmoderated.

Outcomes

During testing, we asked 11 users to complete 3 tasks. Based on the feedback received, we determined the steps that would be needed in order to move forward.

A total of 11 users were asked to complete three tasks. Tests were done remotely with 3 being unmoderated and the rest being moderated. Think aloud as well as concurrent probing methods were used during each task  and after we asked followed up questions