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Principle 1: Act as a helpful human

November 25, 2015

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This is the first in a series of posts about our four Strategic Principles.

Curious how we arrived at our four Strategic Principles? Check out this post.

The first major test of our our new web site is not just whether the site has all the right features and information. It also has to have the right attitude. It has to remind people with every interaction that it was designed by humans. And it was made for humans. Direct without sounding like we have more important things to do. Helpful without sounding like know-it-alls.

By making it easier to get permits, understand parking bans, learn about leaf pickup and find neighborhood events, people will stop thinking of us as a faceless bureaucracy and see the people behind the processes. People will start thinking City Hall has a soul.

We know that a smarter website will be a blessing not only to citizens, but also City employees. It means they spend less time acting as a switchboard operator, or repeatedly providing information that common sense (and user research) tells us should be easily found online. A smarter website frees employees to do what they do best — act as problem solvers for our residents.

At a time when many people anticipate bureaucracies becoming less and less navigable, demonstrating our humanity would not only be a great relief to the citizens of Boston. It would also be a wonderful surprise.

So, at every step along the way we will be asking ourselves: Does this aspect of the website make us feel more helpful and more human? If it does, we keep it. If it doesn’t, we dump it and search for a better way.