Thanks to a user experience research group, we’re designing a more intuitive version of one of our more popular pages.

When we launched the new version of Boston.gov in 2016, we knew that we weren’t done. Our plan was always to iterate on what we had accomplished. We wanted to continue to make the website easier to use for all constituents.

While the look and feel of Boston.gov was much different, there were still some department pages that ended up looking overwhelming based on the amount of services they provided residents. One of those was our Parks and Recreation Department.

There are a ton of great resources available through the Parks and Recreation website. We wanted to make sure we…


Thanks to some eye-opening user research, we’re re-thinking our approach to how we craft and send City newsletters.

We regularly publish and send more than 65 newsletters from departments across the City to keep residents informed about what’s happening in Boston. The trouble is, with so many newsletters going out, they often lack visual consistency across departments and the experience of our subscribers can vary.

We partnered with a user experience team from General Assembly this summer to review all of our newsletters, as well as the newsletter creation process. The group researched our current processes to design better newsletter solutions. …


Working from Code for Boston’s initial Alexa Skill deployment, we teamed up with General Assembly students to improve the design of our new voice application.

In 2019, we partnered with Code for Boston, a Code for America Brigade and grassroots organization, to create and launch a new Alexa skill for City of Boston services. The skill allowed anyone with an Amazon Alexa stand-alone home device, or with the Alexa app on their phone, to hear:

  • daily alerts from the City
  • find food truck locations, and
  • learn about the latest BOS:311 requests.

The skill allowed users to find information about City services, like trash pickup times or parking updates, based on their address.

After the launch, the COVID-19 emergency began to unfold in Boston. We found…


Our goal is to build digital experiences that work for all residents. That means we are constantly looking to make digital tools better and more accessible for our users. We wanted to highlight some of our recent work.

Focusing on accessibility has always been a top priority for the Digital Team. To that end, we’ve been working over the past several months with Iterators LLC to conduct an accessibility audit of Boston.gov. They helped us test our website to make sure folks can more easily navigate the site and access all of its services and resources, including those with:

  • low vision, no vision, or color blindness
  • hearing impairment or loss
  • motor or developmental disabilities, and
  • light-induced epilepsy.

We found a few potential areas for improvement. These ranged from sensory characteristics, like color contrast, to navigation characteristics, like how…


Our seven-minute documentary about the creation of markers at the Boston Marathon bombing sites has now received award recognition.

It’s hard to pin down one favorite video among the many we’ve created. Just in the past few months, our Digital storytelling team has been hard at work highlighting the myriad of efforts happening across Boston as the City grapples with COVID-19.

However, one video that is near and dear to our hearts is our “Re-Marking the Boston Marathon” short-form documentary, which has received a number of accolades since airing last October. If you haven’t seen it, you can check out the video below:

The seven-minute documentary details the delicate process taken to create markers at each of the…


If someone gets a code enforcement ticket but they’re not sure what it is, will they pay the fine? Probably not. With a new envelope design, we’re hoping to fix that.

Despite efforts to keep the City clean and free of violations, unpaid code enforcement fines have increased over the past few years. Of all the code enforcement tickets written, around 38 percent go unpaid. We know people want to do the right thing. But, if our ticketing process isn’t making it clear to residents what’s expected of them — and what their options are — it can lead to a lot of repeat offenders and frustration.

Our partner on this project, Public Works, knew they had a problem. Their concern was that the old “green” tickets weren’t obvious to residents…


The City of Boston is now accepting applications for summer fellowships on the Digital Team and in the Innovation and Technology cabinet.

Every summer, the Digital Team welcomes a new group of fellows to support our efforts across the City of Boston. And, just like in previous years, our 2019 summer fellows didn’t disappoint. Taking on a mix of new and existing projects, they jumped into their work and tackled some big challenges we’re facing at the City.

You can learn more about our fellows, and their efforts during the summer, below. If this type of work sounds interesting to you, consider applying for a 2020 fellowship with the Digital Team. Applications are due Saturday, February 1, 2020, at 5 p.m. …


We’re sharing more creative stories behind City government.

If you’ve checked out the City of Boston’s YouTube account — or follow the City of Boston’s social channels — you might have noticed a recent uptick in our video output. This year, we worked with New Urban Mechanics and the City’s Press Office to hire two digital storytellers, and the results have been amazing.

Our storytelling team uses video to promote residents’ voices, and share information about important City services. One of our biggest project this year was the City’s first short-form documentary about the Boston Marathon markers that commemorate the lives lost in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing…


After more than two years of work, you can order Boston birth, marriage, and death certificates online.

We did it, folks! With the recent release of our marriage certificates application, we’ve successfully moved all requests for Registry Department vital record certificates — birth, marriage, and death — online. Instead of coming into City Hall or breaking out your stamp collection, you can order from home and receive a certificate in the mail. At just $14 per order, plus a minor processing fee, we’ve been able to not only make our certificates accessible, but also more affordable.

In fact, in just the first week of releasing our marriage application — and without any promotion — online requests made…


Sinclair Target, a 2019 summer fellow on the Analytics Team, explains his summer project analyzing Boston bus routes.

Where do Boston buses get stuck in traffic? Where do they sail along? If we knew more about how buses travel across the City, could we make bus service better for everyone?

The City of Boston does not have direct control over the bus system in the greater Boston area. The bus system is run by the MBTA, a state agency. But, the City does have control over the roads and intersections throughout Boston. We need to make sure that roads and intersections are designed in a way that keeps buses moving along their routes.

As part of that effort…

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For non-emergency City services, dial 311, tweet @BOS311, or visit boston.gov/311.

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