With user research and eGov goals as touchstones, Azul Seven aligned the needs and perspectives of 30+ government departments in redesigning the main Hennepin County Website.
Hennepin County is the most populous county in Minnesota, serving well over one million residents and working with businesses, municipalities, counties and other organizations throughout the state and nation. The county’s reach is broad and delivering quality, efficient service to all of these audiences is a top priority. As the role of technology has expanded in government service in recent years, Hennepin County has been eager to evolve its digital presence and improve the experience for the people it serves. Because this people-first view of service closely aligns with the Azul Seven human-centered design approach, Hennepin County selected our team to redesign hennepin.us and help the organization rethink its overall service design strategy.
From the onset of the project, we knew that the county team wanted to move away from a traditional information-based structure toward a more service-focused experience. The idea seemed logical but presented a challenge—aligning the needs and perspectives of 30+ departments, each of which provides different content and transactions for different audiences. In this case the human-centered design approach not only helped our teams build empathy for stakeholders and residents and guide our design, but also helped minimize potential conflict by placing that empathy at the center of decision-making. So when opinions varied and old habits could have made decision-making complex, the team was able to reference personas, user goals and research findings to reset the group mindset when necessary. These tools are especially helpful in situations like the county’s where so many groups have varying thoughts on the best way to present content and functionality. By always asking ourselves, “what does the resident want to do here?” we were able to put personal preferences aside and find alignment faster.
Traditionally, hennepin.us has been organized according to the departments and their content ownership. While the strategy made sense from an internal perspective, we learned in our research that residents often don’t understand how the structure works and which departments are responsible for which tasks or information. For the new site, we agreed that a human-centered outside-in perspective on content organization would be more effective.
This change was not only significant to the site design, but to the way different departments manage content and work together on a daily basis. Shifting behaviors and installing new processes is never easy so we worked hard to support the changes by cultivating cross-departmental collaboration as much as possible. We led multi-departmental working sessions to reorganize content together, discuss internal needs and align county staff under an understanding of citizen goals. The sessions helped lay the foundation for a culture of collaboration between departments that don’t normally work together and enable the team to sustain this integrated content approach moving forward.
The website redesign represents an important shift for the county’s interactions with residents, but it’s only one part of a broader goal of bringing human-centered design to service delivery. In conjunction with the website redesign, the county’s efforts to more efficiently serve its audiences is being supported by a broader egov initiative that aims to bring more services and transactions online in the coming months. Azul Seven was brought on to help define the county’s long-term service design strategy, applying a human-centered approach. Our goal with the strategy is to help simplify the experiences that people have with the county by aligning efforts of the web team, egov and IT, and those managing service delivery offline under a single human-centered approach.
- Digital Business Strategy
- User Experience Design
- User Interface Design
- Interaction Design
- Content Strategy
- Front-End Development