When New York City partnered with Huge for an overhaul of NYC.gov, the city's existing site was groaning under the weight of over 1 million pages. Designed in 2003, the site was complicated and slow, making basic public information hard to find, as 8 million residents (speaking hundreds of languages) looked for info on 1,700 public schools, 28,000 acres of parks, 24 subway lines, and over 300 bus routes. As part of his Digital Road Map, Mayor Bloomberg initiated an effort to streamline the City’s digital footprint for a 2013 launch.
We talked with New Yorkers and government employees alike to understand the full scope of user needs. From this research we knew that prioritization was a key in the new design. People needed to be able to find the most popular functions of NYC.gov the moment they got to the site: a news carousel, daily parking rules, trash and recycling schedules, and public school closures. We fully integrated NYC 311 into the site for the first time; allowing users to instantly file requests, pay parking tickets and more.
We knew that responsive design was a must, since more than a quarter of traffic to the old site had come from mobile. To maximize accessibility for the City’s diverse residents and visitors, Huge made the site available in more than 100 languages and surpassed the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The site received some of its highest traffic during emergencies and natural disasters, such as Hurricane Irene, and when Superstorm Sandy struck New York during the redesign, we experienced the importance of NYC.gov firsthand. Huge consequently made the site easily customizable so that the City can push up-to-the-minute information on all devices and channels in an emergency.
Today NYC.gov is the go-to source for public information, accommodating 35 million users per year and taking a big step in the City’s Digital Roadmap. It allows users from anywhere to engage with the government and rapidly find answers to the kind of important issues that impact their lives every day. Huge’s work has further empowered the City to extend the code framework and style guide to other city websites so they can create a unified look and feel across all digital properties.