CITY OF HELSINKI – UI/UX, Service and Content Design
Citizen-centric renewal of the largest website in Finland
Rethink how the city works
The City of Helsinki website, hel.fi, boasts approximately half a million pages, making it the most complex in the country. The current solution is facing its end, and instead of merely moving the old content to a new site, the city decided to invest in building an entirely new digital service with an emphasis on smart data integrations.
Above all, it’s a major transformation for an organisation of 40 000 employees; to generate user-friendly content and present city services in a profoundly new way. Kuudes has been a hands-on partner for the city, working alongside their design team to reimagine the city’s online presence.
Our task was to
Shape the whole customer experience for citizens and design a new, accessible hel.fi
Expand and strengthen Helsinki’s brand experience in digital channels
Create a new mindset in the organisation and leverage the design competencies of city employees
Integrating design into the city organisation
The journey to renew the whole hel.fi is ongoing and will altogether take more than two years. The scale of the project is so massive that the City of Helsinki decided to split it into smaller entities, focusing on one theme and industry at a time.
We gathered expert teams from various fields and trained them to utilise design thinking methods as part of their day-to-day work. In addition to building a new site, we coach the design team, product owners, and other internal stakeholders, as well as plan design processes and integrate customer-centric thinking into the organisation.
City dwellers take center stage
Citizen-centricity means smoother access to services, enhancing people’s participation in decision-making, and inspiring the people of Helsinki to find new sides of their city. To gather customer insight, validate the concepts, and test the new site’s usability, the City of Helsinki recruited a community of citizens to help us.
The two-year journey
Our task was to create concepts for various theme sites of hel.fi and coach and teach the organisation to use service design and agile methods to develop new ideas into concepts.
Service design key objectives
1 – Insight
Gather the pain points, challenges, and expectations of city dwellers.
2 – Co-design
Facilitate the co-design process and support the relevant product teams.
3 – Concept
Create and validate the concepts for hel.fi theme sites.
Speaking the users’ language
In content design, we introduced a new approach for creating digital content: combining design thinking and communications. Through user testing, workshops and content sprints, we engaged the citizens and the city organisation to identify user needs, functional content solutions and tone of voice.
- Holistic information architecture
- User-tested and implemented tone of voice
- Development of a user-centric process for content creation
- Content design playbook and manual for content producers
Translating the Helsinki brand into a digital experience
“Kuudes has created the new visual and UX concept for city of Helsinki’s main website. They have helped us to build our brand experience in the digital world. Their visionary, solution focused and pragmatic attitude and approach has enabled our success.”
– Anni Leppänen, Lead Service Designer, City of Helsinki
UI/UX design key objectives
1 – Digital brand experience
One of our key objectives was to create not only a new visual concept for the website, but also build a brand experience in the digital world and scale it across the organisation.
2 – Building a solid Design System
We designed, tested, and iterated new UI components and page templates and tested them with users. Our work contributed to the Helsinki Design System to make it even more solid and serve all digital projects across the city.
3 – Rapid prototyping and user testing
We were working in close collaboration with product owners and other experts, facilitating site concepts and creating rapid prototypes to validate them with city dwellers.
4 – Design Operations
Our role was also instrumental in creating the UX/UI design working methods, training the UX team, and scaling our models across the organisation.
5 – Agile development
We work together with developers in agile two-week sprints to build a new Drupal platform as well as a WordPress portal. We also actively develop new working methods with the development team to make the design-to-development flow more efficient.
6 – Accessibility
The City of Helsinki integrated accessibility thinking as an integral part of the project – beginning as early as the concept phase. Two accessibility specialists consulted our design team all the way from the initial drafts to coded components.
Examples of Kuudes' projects in hel.fi renewal
#concept #ux/ui design
One of the first pilot projects in hel.fi was renewing the most used part of the web service – Helsinki health stations and the services they provide. We were focusing on findability and clear user paths to help everydaycitizens find the best possible way to access the services they need.Visit the site
#concept #ux/ui design
Guiding the users
In this project, our goal was to help senior citizens find relevant services. In order to help them understand the service processes, we created visualised user paths with the focus on very clear structure and accessibility.
Easier access to decision making
Our aim was to help citizens keep abreast of how Helsinki is changing and to make it easier to understand the decision-making processes. We were focusing on making a service where finding and reviewing things quickly is as intuitive as possible.
“Kuudes is a strategic partner of the City of Helsinki in the renewal of the hel.fi website. Kuudes has helped us to form a design team and build new capabilities for the city, such as the foundation for design team operations, visual identity, and user interface design.”
– Anni Leppänen, Lead Service Designer, City Of Helsinki
New visual identity and UX concept for the hel.fi
10 launched theme sites in approx. 18 months
Elevation of the city’s design maturity to a whole new level
Citizen-centric, rapid prototyping of concept ideas
Creation of new working methods and scaling of our models across the organisation
Kuudes’ visionary, solution-focused and pragmatic attitude and approach has enabled project’s success
For more information:
CEO, Kuudes Nordic
+358 40 730 9612
Illustrations for the city by Lille Santanen.