Toronto.ca Wants You
You might remember a few months ago the Toronto.ca website formally launched it's web re:Brand campaign, an initiative aiming to bring the city's online presence up to par with the modern day web. It's been a slow process, with the city's homepage being the only major section to see a redesign thus far. But much is being done behind the scenes.
Curious to find out more about the city's plans and progress, I had the opportunity to speak with Keith McDonald, communications coordinator for the web re:Brand campaign. While it may not be immediately obvious, now is a particularly important time for McDonald and the re:Brand team; a number of new comment and feedback systems have been set up which will allow Toronto.ca users to directly influence the evolution of the site.
The plan, explains McDonald, is to use the feedback from Toronto.ca users, by allowing users to "share their opinions with internal staff as [they] make recommendations and design decisions to enhance the website."
What's important to note is that comments and feedback are not strictly relegated to the homepage redesign, but any sections of the current Toronto.ca site that users feel need work - or, perhaps, are fine the way they currently are.
At the moment, a large number of comments have come from the feedback form on the site's comment page. While responses have been steady, the re:Brand team is hoping to eventually expand the section into a full-blown blog, offering a better avenue for interaction and updates.
But users looking to participate in a more specific fashion can take part in an anonymous survey, gauging internet usage and user experience on the city's website. McDonald hopes that the team can acquire over 1000 responses, which should reveal important trends regarding what users want from the Toronto.ca site, and how to access it.
For example, the re:Brand team mentioned that collating little known and hard to access information on one page, such as licensing data, would centralize information that is all too often scattered.
In addition to this, the team is calling for a similarly sized group of usability testers. This role is unique in that it provides users the chance to participate in focus groups and discussions directly with members of the re:Brand team. Sessions will be set up over the coming months that "in a proactive sense," says McDonald, "should really allow a Toronto.ca user to help frame the site."
As regular users of the city's online portal, this is a great chance to provide our thoughts and opinions on how the site should be designed and organized best. The re:Brand team is making it clear that its main goal is to redesign the site to be as user-centric as possible, and not simply navigable by city employees. Ultimately, it's the comments and feedback received in the coming months that will determine if this goal becomes a reality.
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