SanDiego.gov, A Resource Tool for Citizens

Redefining how citizens engage with the City of San Diego.

The City of San Diego turned to Hopscotch Labs to uncover citizen’s and visitor’s real motivations and needs for the City’s website. In undertaking the website redesign, Mayor Faulconer’s goal was to visibly and tangibly show the changes undergoing within the city government while also making it easier and more user friendly to access to City services, departments, resources and data.

Hopscotch Labs deployed a rigorous usability testing regimen based on extensive community outreach. The project was undertaken in an iterative and agile fashion in order to ensure the best possible outcome for all stakeholders.

What did we discover?

Citizens turn to the City of San Diego’s website to accomplish a personal or a city task, that are either tactical and exploratory. They want San Diego’s website to be a tool to draw businesses and tourists, and a resource tool for their needs. Citizen’s primary goals were to use the site as a:

  • Tool to create interest in the City; as a
  • Tool to accomplish City-based or owned tasks; and as a
  • Source for neighborhood information.

Major Barriers and Pain Points 

Civic engagement doesn’t happen on the current website. Jargon, unorganized content leave people cold—they prefer to procrastinate or call to get their questions answered and tasks completed.

Departments use the website for document storage, and hack together disparate third party apps to manage their day-to-day public services. The website’s format limits the size and value that images can provide to the City and its messaging. It also limits the ability to showcase planning initiatives, and special features and attractions around the City.

The website does not reflect San Diego values, lifestyle or people. The content, design and tone of the website are a poor reflection of what San Diegans value and expect of the City.

The website gives neither Citizens or Staff reason to stay.

Research overview 

Discovery research was conducted in all nine City council districts and surrounding communities, touching 40,000 people. The City’s website was analyzed for use behavior and compared to three other cities.

Hopscotch Labs also supported the City of San Diego with design and usability testing with citizens. At each phase of the design Hopscotch ran citizens through specific exercises to test the design, strategy and information architecture. ‘User Testing’ included brand, website design and usability, and Alpha and Beta testing.

Note, this is a Code for America’s Digital Front Door initiative.