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A Brief Reflection on Pittsburgh’s 2017 Website Launch

The roll-out of the City of Pittsburgh’s new website last year was a relative success, but user errors caused headaches during the first weeks post-launch.[1] It looks as if the city struggled in two key elements of the launch: internal communication and data gathering.

The redesign of the City of Pittsburgh’s website involved moving a slew of city services to the new platform. The city should’ve done a better job engaging with key stakeholders involved with each online service to make sure the new site would work properly. Instead, “Burgh’s Eye View,” an application that allows citizens to use live data the city collects, didn’t work at launch. (Fun fact: Mayor Peduto developed this idea with the help of the Bloomberg City Leadership Initiative). This malfunction wasn’t even due to an issue with the website, but an internal problem with the Innovation Department. Still, the city could’ve very easily pushed back the launch if they had better communication with each of the departments.

Additionally, the city incorrectly tried to collect the majority of user-data and feedback post-launch. In simpler terms, the city planned to have users discover bugs after the site was launched rather than before. Instead of waiting for user headaches and frustration, the city could’ve very easily ran tests with groups of people or even created a minimum viable product of the new site. It’s good that the city is collecting feedback and is willing to be agile, but they could’ve created a better product to begin with. The City of Pittsburgh’s new website generally helped improve the user-experience for the average Pittsburgher, but the initial roll-out could’ve been improved.

[1] Colin Deppen, “You may have noticed some issues with Pittsburgh’s new website. The city’s working on it,” The Incline, August 25, 2017,….

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