You take a number, wait patiently for your turn, only to be told you need to go two doors further down the corridor. Annoying? This is why city administrations strive to direct citizens to the correct location first time around to avoid unpleasantness and wasting time and money. The strongest tool for pre-information is the website and it plays an important administrative role in the course of the ever-advancing e-government strategy.
Why go to the website of a city? For the same reason, you go to the city administration: because you need information or to submit forms. With these two fundamental basics in mind, we set out with the communications department of the city of Lucerne and the e-government experts from i-web, Zurich, implementing the website «stadtluzern.ch» – incorporating further solutions which were the reason behind winning the pitch.
New user practice
In an official building, you are ideally met by an information desk where you obtain competent tips and advice. These expectations also apply when a citizen enters their website. For this reason, we placed a competent search engine prominently on the homepage, which answers the questions entered. The users, ask the internal search engine and are directed directly to the information they need – just like Google does, only in the smaller cosmos.
In addition to the direct search path, other navigation functions allow users to access relevant information:
- context navigation (Breadcrumb and «Around the theme»),
- the vertical sticky navigation (table of contents with in-page links)
- as well as the classic, linear navigation via the menu.
This global navigation concept replaces the classic concept of linear surfing. Every page becomes a starting point, the location clear at any time and everyone can go the way he wants to go. The surf behaviour of users is diverse and the different options depend on the individual intuition as well as on the device, which the user uses.
The new website also correlates with the guidelines of a barrier-free website, e.g. Device independence and a deliberate reduction of complexity.
Stadtluzern.ch has been completely renovated
«Device independence» is, in principle, synonymous with responsive design and nowadays a minimum requirement for new websites. In the case of the City of Lucerne website, the challenge was to present the complex content, online services and forms on various devices – mobile to desktop – as simple and intuitive. We conquered the complexity by reducing.
The front-end, the visible part of the website, we designed without noise, but with focus on function. We intensified the user experience with a clear page structure, use of large typography, a coherent image language (photographed by Heinz Dahinden), large white spaces, which support the functional layout, as well as clear traffic rules, which the user quickly learns.
Fast adaptation cycles thanks to the prototype
The development process of the website was based on a prototype that we encoded. This was the basis for the implementation of the final website. After the customization cycles were completed, we handed the final codes to i-web.
A house that is accessible to all
The website of a city is a service provider. Its primary task is to ensure fast access to information, regardless of the technical, demographic, physical background of a person. The portal of the city of Lucerne now fulfils this mission and can devote itself to the next step towards e-government.
E-Government is a very real strategy supported by the Confederation, the cantons and municipalities. A strategy that is only contemporary and logic. For now, the website of the city of Lucerne has met the new demands of its population and continue to improve the e-government concept daily.