The city of Lahti published their new website in September. A new website was needed as the support of the old SharePoint website was coming to its end, the Accessibility Directive called for changes, and Lahti was named the European Green Capital of 2021.
The new Lahti.fi is aimed primarily for current residents, and therefore, the new website focuses on the services for Lahti citizens. The residents and customers of the municipality’s services are directed to identify the topics and content areas they are looking for on the website.
”During the website renewal, special consideration was given to the mobile user experience, the user paths, and the visual look of the site”, sums up Senni Moksu, the communications manager of the city of Lahti.
The website of the city of Lahti stands out from the typical online service of municipalities as Lahti already had existing separate websites for tourism, culture, healthcare and wellbeing, and business in areas, and therefore, these entities weren’t included in the new website. The new Lahti.fi website could solely focus on the services that the municipality offers for its current and future residents. “This decision isn’t of course strict, but the new Lahti.fi website also has a lot of information for entrepreneurs and there is interesting content for future residents and tourists”, said Moksu as she described the content of the website.
The new website focused on the visuals, but the number of images was reduced from the site. The investments in visuals is reflected in the site’s distinctiveness, the use of icons, and the shapes.
From the perspective of municipal websites, the website of Lahti has boldly embarked on its own visual path and focused on targeting content about services.
Unlike typical municipal website solutions, Lahti ended up using the so-called hamburger menu for their main navigation. Moksu tells how this solution was made particularly with mobile use in mind. The menu solution has been successful and has not garnered critical feedback from citizens.
New functionalities compared to the old website are, for example, presenting the processes of city plans and easy creation of infographics. More updates are planned for when the Pedanet website for basic education in Lahti remains in use only by the learning system and schools will get their own new sites on Lahti.fi.
The challenges of content creation in a large organization
When the website was renewed, one important aim was to make sure the new site is easy to maintain, in order to have interesting and fresh content on the site, the updating needs to be easy. “The maintenance aspect was already considered when selecting the technology, but more importantly, the site admins were offered plenty of long-distance and live training and support. For example, the lay-out models of the new site were reviewed with the people who will do updates on the site so that they could concretely see the possibilities of the new publishing system,” says Moksu.
“The commitment in the project between different units of the large organization varied: some immediately set out to think about what opportunities the new platform offered and how to renew their own site; some were less ready for changes,” recalls Moksu.
“It is sometimes difficult for officials to break away from an organizational perspective. Additionally, the website updates are done on a desktop, while users read the site on their mobile. It is therefore important when designing and producing content to check what the content looks like on a narrow mobile screen – how much text there can be and how the blocks are organized,” Moksu reminds us.
The schedule and budget were met
When comparing different technologies, WordPress was chosen as the publishing platform for its ease of use, abundance of vendors, and low lifecycle costs. A multisite solution was installed for Lahti.fi, so that Wellamo College and the Lahti region’s traffic could have their own sites in the same entity, and new sites could be easily created for future campaigns.
The project proceeded according to plan despite the pandemic situation. Moksu worked as a full-time project manager during the website project. Just over a year after the technology selection was made, the new site was published.
Moksu is pleased that the website project stayed on schedule and on budget. “Careful tendering ensured that project costs remained under control and within the budget.”
The successful end result was guaranteed by good partners: North Patrol helped to choose the technology and a suitable implementation partner, and the new Lahti.fi was implemented by Geniem. Moksu emphasizes how it’s beneficial to outsource services if one’s own expertise in the field is lacking.
Project cost in total: approximately 130 000 €
Key stages of the project:
- May – August 2019: Technology selection, North Patrol
- September – December 2019: Purchasing, North Patrol
- January – September 2020: Technical implementation, Geniem
- June – September 2020: Adding of content
- September 2020 – Publishing