The goal in redesigning phila.gov is to build a municipal website that starts with the needs of people who use it. As we dug into our web analytics, it became clear that many Philadelphians come to phila.gov for information about real estate.
Bits and pieces of property information are currently spread about, so one has to visit several sites to get the full picture. Ideally, all of that information would be in one place, with the data organized and prioritized to best serve user needs. The search at property.phila.gov goes some distance toward that ideal, but we wanted to go further.
How do we go about determining data priority? We added a survey to the current search to find out what people are looking for, then scoured over 400 responses. One insight gained was a top five list:
With that new understanding we designed a property app that emphasizes the real estate information people most care about. You can see it in action at alpha.phila.gov/property.
The technology is fairly straightforward. The Property app is entirely client-side, fetching data via open APIs from the Office of Property Assessment and the Geographic Services Group. It will be easily extended to include other sources like Licenses and Inspections. The code (and issues we’re working on) can be found at github.com/CityOfPhiladelphia/property2.
In a trend we’re hoping will become the routine, Property is now public as alpha software. We’re testing both our ideas and the technology to see if this works for all of you. Please check it out and leave us some feedback.