Nashville.gov houses many thousands of pages and documents distributed across dozens of departments. The existing content was largely structured in parallel with how Metro Government was structured which was not a system most website users understood. As a result, the previous navigation and functionality led to user frustration and increased workload for Metro Nashville staff who had to help confused constituents. Net Tango was tasked with identifying the top priorities of Nashville.gov visitors and building simple, elegant and user-friendly systems to get them to the resources they need quickly with minimal effort.
Our extensive user engagement research revealed significant opportunities to simplify content and enhance user experience.
We started this project with an extensive user engagement study of both external and internal website users to assess who used the site, what they wanted to accomplish, and where there was opportunity for improvement. Equipped with this valuable feedback from 6 months of user engagement research including a public survey and numerous focus groups with various stakeholders, we developed a site architecture and content strategy that emphasized easy access to city services for citizens, and simultaneously enabled department content editors to analyze and promote their programs and services. The resulting new website is state-of-the-art with advanced systems in place for content management, workflow, permissions and access, active directory integration, search, web applications, security, accessibility and more.
Focus on Services
A common need for both users and content editors of Nashville.gov was easy access to Metro Government services. A common source of frustration with the old website was knowing a service existed but not being able to find it because you didn’t know what it was called or who to contact. The new design elevates services to top of mind in a number of ways. Every department home page and the main Nashville.gov home page lead with a curated list of top services. Many of these listed items provide links directly into hub.Nashville.gov where users can submit service requests and get quick resolution to their issues. Further, the search applies a custom icon to visually identify search results that are services. Results also can be filtered to show only the service-specific results.
We engaged partner SearchStax to help us implement a cloud-based Solr search server. The new Nashville.gov search includes indexed content from 6 different data sources and allows users to sort on several criteria and to filter using facets for department, content type and data source. Our custom search integrates information from hubNashville to create direct connections between Nashville.gov and Metro Nashville’s citizen services portal. Behind the scenes, we use a custom SearchStax dashboard to manage the details on search promotions, synonyms, suggested terms, spell checking, weighting, keyword highlighting and numerous other search options and tools. The end result is a search system that Metro Government can fine-tune as needed that returns relevant results for search users and provides meaningful insights into what content is the most valuable to the users.
The new version of Nashville.gov builds on the successes of the original design and layers in additional ways to highlight critical information and services, adds several ways to get to the same information to accommodate different user types and browsing styles, and simplifies presentation of information while retaining access to an enormous trove of legacy content. A feedback feature at the bottom of each page encourages site users to submit suggestions, which allows us to iterate and continually improve the citizen experience.