Thinking About What Could Be

City of Memphis Website

“There is no question that our current website is long overdue for a complete overhaul. My intent for a new is simply to have the most helpful and dynamic website possible for the people of Memphis. We have surveyed the public extensively and have a very clear idea of what people want: intuitive design, accessible information, and a way to make their voices heard. We have made great strides using our existing website to improve transparency; a new website will only create more opportunities to share the policy documents, data sets, reports, contracts, and permitting documents that people find useful and necessary. I want this to be a convenient and evolving place online where people and their local government to communicate more easily and productively with one another. Our website can be more than a simple repository of information. It will be comparable to our front door and floor directory. We will see that it is as easy to find as 125 North Main Street and as easy to navigate as the ‘you are here’ plaques on our hallways. It can be a virtual gathering place for people to share ideas, create connections, and begin shaping the grassroots action plans that will accelerate community and economic development throughout our great city.” – Mayor A C Wharton

Those were the words emailed to me just two days after the release of this RFP to redesign the City of Memphis Website.

Since the day he took office, Mayor Wharton has been committed to increasing transparency. While his administration has made great strides, they’re hindered by this outdated site that has reached it’s design limitations, and then some.

In addition to being less than visually pleasing, it’s also difficult to navigate, and generally disorganized. Some basic functions are buried under several levels of unnecessary clicks, making it difficult for many users to find anything.

While there may be no perfect design for a website serving a city of our size, there are a heck of a lot better ones. Which got me to thinking. What would you like to see in a redesign? I know what I want, better and more advanced searches, tagging, and simplified URL’s that take you right to a division. But what do you expect?

What kinds of functions frustrate you? What do you need better access to? How can the City government make information more accessible?

If you’re a developer and a Memphian, take this opportunity to look over the RFP and see if this is something you or your group would be interested in undertaking.

The RFP deadline is April 15th with a Q & A period starting on the 30th of this month. Mull it over and let’s think about how we want our city website to work.

Edited to Add: For the record, I am not connected to anyone who may bid, nor do I have any intention to bid on this project, and probably disqualified myself by even writing about it.

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