Case Study

City of Burnaby

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Engage Awards 2021 Doers

Highlights

Situation

The City’s web team wanted to develop a citizen-centric website experience that better reflected user needs.

Challenge

The previous site was complex and difficult to navigate.

Our Solution

Acquia Cloud Platform, Acquia Cloud Edge, Acquia DAM, Drupal 9

Results

The new site is a modern, visually stimulating and easy-to-navigate website with approachable and friendly content.

The Client

The City of Burnaby is the third most populated urban center in British Columbia, Canada, with over 249,000 citizens. The City is a dynamic, urban community with four vibrant town centers, rapid transit, technology and business centers, major post-secondary institutions and a range of neighborhoods that are served by outstanding parks and recreational facilities and civic amenities.

The Situation

The City of Burnaby website, Burnaby.ca, is considered one of the most important communications channels for citizens, businesses and visitors to learn more about Burnaby and interact with the City. In 2020, the website received more than 1.3 million unique visitors and over 5.7 million page views. 

Burnaby’s web team wanted to:

  • Develop a citizen-centric, service-oriented website experience
  • Redesign the information architecture to better reflect user needs
  • Showcase the City’s brand, visual identity and voice while ensuring brand consistency
  • Develop a fresh, modern-looking website 
  • Organize digital assets, ensuring that approved assets were updated and consistent
  • Build a website with a strong and agile foundation for continuous iteration and evolution
  • Migrate from internal servers to a new cloud-based hosting provider

The Challenge

Burnaby.ca is one of the City’s most important channels for communications with the community. But its previous website created many challenges: 

  • Users were unable to accomplish their tasks or find the information they needed. The site was complex, and content was organization-focused rather than user-focused. The site was filled without outdated and missing content.
  • Information architecture and page structure were inconsistent and confusing, causing users to abandon the site and seek other means of assistance — like contacting the city by phone. 
  • The proprietary site CMS was not scalable, and the vendor no longer offered support.
  • Responsive design was inflexible, creating less-than-ideal end user experiences, especially on mobile devices.
  • Content was confusing and outdated; with multiple writers, creating a consistent voice and experience was difficult.
  • It was neither inclusive nor accessible to users with disabilities.
  • On-site hosting created business continuity issues, especially at times when communication would be most critical to residents.
  • Unorganized digital assets led to wasted time searching for assets, using outdated assets and completely losing assets.

The Solution

The City’s significant cultural shift to focusing on the resident/customer experience was the core foundation for the new website’s development. Internally, the goal is to move away from departmental silos and create unity through a consistently executed brand visual identity and voice.

Composed of 32 staff members from across departments, the City’s Website Insights Team (WIT) worked together with subject matter experts to review and develop website content and receive input and feedback throughout the process. The City’s in-house writing team worked directly with the subject matter experts in rewriting and editing the content in the City's new brand voice.

Website development partner Domain 7 conducted experience mapping discussions, building a better understanding of the user journeys. Working with the marketing and communications teams, they led workshops to gain a better understanding of the external end users and their goals and needs. 

Domain 7 used Acquia DAM to compile digital assets from across all City departments into a cohesive platform, creating a central repository. The marketing team now has more control over assets, ensuring they are current, easy to find, and that the City has the rights to use them. It also helps to streamline the graphic design process as well as the ability to track and measure results. 

Additionally, because the City site is now hosted on Acquia Cloud, City staffers feel confident that their core communications tool will work even during a natural disaster. The City can quickly update its website so the community is aware of any service disruptions and the estimated time to restore them.

The Results

The new Burnaby.ca is a modern, visually stimulating, easy-to-navigate website with approachable and friendly content. Specifically,

  • The new website launched with 479 pages (down from 1,500+), providing users with a streamlined information architecture for ease of navigation. 
  • With the smaller site, content updates are centralized to the digital marketing team, providing increased control over brand visual identity and voice.
  • 30 activity schedule pages have been streamlined to a single filtered page, simplifying navigation and increasing cross-promotion opportunities. 
  • The site now makes it easier for users to complete tasks; featured homepage buttons include the six most common tasks, quickly guiding users through the process of accomplishing the task they want to perform.
  • The new site includes a Services and Payments page; each tab breaks down the services by categories with links listed to perform tasks or find more information.
  • Permits and applications have been streamlined from numerous pages across five departments into one filtered view page. 
  • Users can now view all City projects in one view or sort the projects by category, phase or keyword. 
  • Moving to Drupal 9 means the site is fully responsive, enhancing the end user experience and improving navigation and content readability.
  • The new website meets WCAG 2.0 level AA standards.

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