Before we reveal our new design for montreal.ca over the next few weeks, we’d like to take you on a trip back in time. We invited Bruno Guglielminetti, digital strategy consultant, to come along with us. Guglielminetti has had a passion for the Web since 1994, so he’s in a great position to comment on the successive evolutions of your city’s Web site.
The infancy of the Web
The context: The city’s very first Web site was launched in 1996. It was based on information and offered lots and lots of content. It also hosted the sites of community organizations.
Bruno Guglielminetti’s perspective: “Montréal was the first city in Québec to have a Web site and its home page was typical of the era. Design and ergonomics were not an issue. The page had to be light so it would load quickly, as bandwidth speed was mediocre. There were few, if any, pictures. There were lots of links to content, as these sites’ vocation was to share a maximum of documents online.”
First online service
The context: The first Web site makeover took place in 2000, and the first online service, Cité +, still exists today. Cité + is a service for business people and notaries to get information about real estate assessments and municipal taxes.
Bruno Guglielminetti: “During those years, we talked about portals rather than Web sites. The idea was to offer a way in to the city with a home page where people could access a variety of content. The volume of available information had increased, and a search function was added. The design was still basic and the site format was still small so that it could be adapted to 15-inch screens. The city had just begun to use its Web site as a democratic tool by offering surveys and getting suggestions from residents.”
The merger period
The context: In 2002, the sites of 27 boroughs created by the mergers had to be designed and integrated into the portal by recovering content from the sites of the former municipalities. It was quite a feat!
Bruno Guglielminetti: “This version is like a snapshot of the era. It’s very representative of the context of the mergers. It was a necessary step, but the home page is a mishmash, with way too much information, from the weather to citizen services to job offers and waste collection schedules. There isn’t much in terms of graphic design, and the page’s architecture with its four columns is pretty standard for the times.”
The e-Cité project
The context: In 2004, Montréal made huge investments in digital development. New services that are still operational today were launched: Recreation Online, accident reports issued by the police or paying your statement of offence online.
Bruno Guglielminetti: “In just two years, the city’s Web site was able to reconcile the needs of its different users. There was still a lot of information, but it was better organized than before. The design was cleaner and more affirmative. From that point forward, you could see a certain maturity, and that the Web was becoming part of a strategy.”
A new era
The context: The fourth redesign of Montréal’s Web site, in 2008, emphasized more fluid and intuitive navigation to enable users to find the information and services they needed more easily.
Bruno Guglielminetti: “With this evolution, the city’s Web site began to become a full-fledged entity. The page design was more current and more dynamic, and enabled a more editorial management of content. Unlike the previous version, the home page fit onto one screen and access to anything was just a couple of clicks away.”
A medium in its own right
The context: The current face of ville.montreal.qc.ca dates back to 2012. It focuses on events around Montréal and offers a wide variety of content, which can make it hard for residents looking for specific information or services.
Bruno Guglielminetti: “With photos, articles and videos, the city’s Web site has become a medium in its own right that even integrates its own social media. The page design is lively and modern; it looks like a city where things are happening.
That being said, the city can and should do better. The audits and discussion groups we’ve held over the past few months have shown us that Montréal’s digital services are relevant but out of date (lien vers billet #3). That’s the objective of the transformation that will take place next fall as we work to make your life easier.
Bruno Guglielminetti: “Beyond the graphic evolution of the city’s portal, what’s interesting is that we see improvements in terms of the services offered to residents. I hope that the evolution that is in progress will follow the same path. Today, Montréal is a modern, digital and smart city. Its residents should have access to the same services in person and online.”
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What are your memories of old versions of Montréal’s Web site? What’s your wish list for montreal.ca? We can’t wait to read your comments!