Here’s What’s New with Oakland Digital Services
Technically, a website is a collection of pages and applications under a common domain name. For the City, rebuilding our website actually represents a fundamental change in the way we do business and work together as a team.
We had a humble budget, but big dreams, so we partnered with organizations and companies that care deeply about Oakland. We built an alpha site and a beta site to test out our approach to City websites. Our work went on to inform the development of sites in Boston, Philadelphia, and even Orlando. While we’re proud of the work we’ve done to date, we know it took a long time to get here and we have a lot more to do.
What You Can See
There are some obvious visual distinctions between our old and new sites.
- Navigation. We know that most of you hated drilling down 10 clicks through Oaklandnet.com. So, we have a pretty light navigation with a heavier emphasis on search.
- Writing. We’re aiding transparency and inclusion efforts by adding success metrics to everything we publish online. In other words, while we’ll continue to be a bureaucracy, we won’t talk like one. Instead, we’re striving to communicate with you at a 5th-8th grade reading level. Our goal is to make sure that we’re easier to understand, search for online, and translate. We’re striving to refrain from using words like “citizen” and other words that exclude members of our community.
- Design. The design of the site offers bigger text, icons and clear calls to action on each page. Whether the function of each part of the site is to fill out a form or read about City policy, the design is consistent and predictable across the site.
- Oakland Images. Instead of corporate landscapes, we want to create a more welcoming place for you to visit us online. Our new digital front door (and side doors), feature details, places, and spaces from around the Town and our beloved community. In particular, we want to showcase the details and the people who make our town feel like home.
What’s 99% Invisible
Local radio show host Roman Mars might be impressed by what you (mostly) can’t see and we hope you are, too. Here are some things going on behind the scenes:
- Mobile responsive. Our website will now work on your smartphones and tablets with relative ease.
- A Better System for City Staff. Our staff had to use a 10+ year-old system to update our online services and information. Needless to say, simple changes and web updates that once took hours, can now be completed in minutes.
- Search. We are increasing the capacity for better search by tagging our information.
- A League of Our Own. We pulled together some of the best and the brightest local talent to work with our City departments. Our Oakland Design League works on analyzing public data, designing City services, improving content, and testing our website with the public and City staff.
- Feedback Loop. Our ongoing improvements are based on testing our online services with Oaklanders. Your suggestions won’t go into a black hole, instead, we’ll track and prioritize them online.
What’s on the Roadmap?
Our work is never done. Technology is rapidly changing as quickly as the needs of our community. However, expect a few changes on the horizon.
- Forms. We’re adding the capability for staff to more easily create forms to better digitize the hundreds of services the City provides.
- Events. We’re looking to streamline our Citywide events, classes, and meetings so they are easy for the public to find in one location.
- Bugs. We’re crawling with them. We’re spending the next several months fixing those little things that aren’t just quite right with the site.
Most importantly, our success depends on you. Please let us know if you have insights or suggestions by filling out this form.
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