A truly unique municipal website that brings a beautiful small town to life.
The City of Evansville, WI had a ten year old website and deeply needed a new site to house the various content and tools needed to communicate to the city's residents and businesses. Evansville is an easy drive from Janesville or Madison, WI with excellent schools and city services, and one of the best places to start a small business.
The city wanted to show residents and business owners why it's a great community to raise a family or start that business. It also needed a home for the business of government, including common council meeting notes, various committee agendas and minutes, databases for city staff, elected officials, award notices, city ordinances and more.
We started the City website with our usual look at audiences and their needs (use cases), and the content needs and goals of the City. There wasn't much content to start with, so it was an opportunity to think through what content should exist and build a site map around those needs, and fill in more as more content becomes available.
We spent time with various folks from the city, and heard about issues and needs that the website could help solve. We also went to the public library to learn about the history of the city and the quirks of yore (ask them about the escapee circus animals) to help build a deeper picture of what life in Evansville used to be. And we interviewed multiple people about live in Evansville today.
Once our original discovery process was complete, we could start thinking through content themes. We use some internal site mapping software to help us quickly try new ideas in sitemaps. We ended up using a very human two-line navigation title and subtitle based a little on the users (residents, business, visitors), and a mega-navigation with clear hierarchy to make their fully-reorganized content system make more sense to people who already knew what they needed.
Evansville is its own Americana, a small town main street community that has held the stoplights and strip malls that are ubiquitous these days to only the far-east side. Evansville also has a logo, the city used to be called The Grove before Dr. Evans became its namesake.
We looked at many different design ideas, but want back to the historic approach since the logo's type and color were so stylized, and the city itself is an oasis between larger places. We incorporated historic Evansville imagery into backgrounds and textures, and stylized photos into the footer and other sections of the site.
Tools and Utilities
The City of Evansville doesn't take a passive approach to city services -- they spent effort and time to make the government and administration accessible and forward thinking about solving problems for their residents and business. The site needed to follow suit with clear tools, including a top bar that included Contact, Quick Actions, Notices, and the ability to sign up for notices via email.