How we are making a government website friendly

  1. It’s ugly
  2. More importantly — there was a gazillion of websites providing that data and every year people felt frustrated trying to find the right one to find out those precious dates.

What we did

At mos.ru, the official website of the Government of Moscow we decided we have to change this. We wanted to:

  • Make the hot water shutdown calendar available on an official city website.
  • Make it good-looking and easily understandable
  • Let people find it easily
  • Add some human touch to it
  1. As you can notice it’s not just a simple address input field but some copy as well. We’ve made a research on the topic and tried to find answers to most popular questions on the issue that bothers people the most. Why do we have this annual shutdown, when would that stop, how do I pay for hot water during that period, etc, etc. The answers were rewritten in a simple human language, not the one that government officials usually use.
  2. Searchable database to quickly find when your house wouldn’t have hot water. Additionally, we’ve decided to visualize the results in a simple calendar view since almost everyone was trying to match the dates they found against the calendar.
Caption: “Can I have a shower at your place? I won’t have hot water from Jul 28 to Aug 4”
Caption: “Come to my place to take a shower”

Results

The page lived for about four months and during that time we’ve got:

  • 1,370,000 people who visited the page (~11% of the city population)
  • 73% visits came from search engines
  • about 450,000 people landing on this page visited mos.ru for the first time ever
  • 2,820 people shared their shutdown dates with friends on social media

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Stepa Mitaki

Stepa Mitaki

Now: Product at Moscow City Government, Russia. Previously: Co-founder at MyCity.io. Helping cities use technology to better serve people.