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City of Helsinki improves its website, one theme at a time

The City of Helsinki is updating its webpages with many fresh new elements, including user-friendly themes, improved findability, and easy-to-navigate design. The new webpages have been created along with the residents of the city, as over 4,000 people have given feedback on the website’s development project to date.

The City of Helsinki is in the process of renewing its hel.fi website. The new site provides Helsinki residents with many improved features, including themed sections, a new search function, better findability, pages highlighting all of the city’s news, and a renewed design that changes with the seasons.  

“Customer feedback told us that it was hard to find a lot of information on the city website. That’s why our site update has focused on services and service paths in particular,” says Mari Pietarila, the city’s project manager for the hel.fi renewal.

Several of the updated website’s themed sections, such as housing, healthcare and city planning, have already been launched. New pages will continue to be launched in stages until mid-2023, when sections on services for children and families, for example, will become available. The hel.fi website is Finland’s largest municipal website and one of the country’s biggest online services. Due to its size, the website is being renewed in stages. Last year the hel.fi website recorded more than 40 million visits from some 19 million users.

More up-to-date information

Thanks to the renewal, the city will be able to make more comprehensive use of its databases. For example, an increasingly large part of the information on the city’s different service points will be directly updated from a database in future, ensuring that the latest information is available at all times. The City of Helsinki runs over 8,200 service points, so this is a major improvement.

The city’s versatile news service will also become clearer after the renewal, with news feeds divided into groups of the most recent and popular news items of the week, for instance. The page will also offer news that may be of interest to different visitors.

Building better services and enhanced user experiences with resident help

The hel.fi website renewal is a service design project for a very large-scale website. Several thousand Helsinki inhabitants have participated in the development of the new site as part of an online developer community. Community members assist with testing and research tasks related to people’s everyday needs and experiences. This resident perspective is key, as the updated website seeks above all to offer a service experience that meets the daily requirements of the city’s residents.

During the website renewal process, City of Helsinki employees have enhanced their skills and understanding of how design can be used to improve services in a user-friendly manner. Content design know-how has likewise been of use in efforts to make the website more comprehensible and visually appealing.

The user experience of Helsinki’s digital channels has been harmonised, with online services primarily designed to ensure mobile access, usability and accessibility. The harmonisation of the visual appearance of the city’s output is supported by the Helsinki Design System.  

“We put the customer and our services front and centre, and that is something I’m especially pleased about. Our ultimate goal was for the new website’s contents and service descriptions to highlight essential information for Helsinki residents in way that is easy to understand,” says Mika Lappalainen, editor-in-chief of the new hel.fi website.

The transition to the city’s new website will continue in stages until the summer of 2023. New themed sections will be published as they are completed, followed by the removal of old links and content from the previous site.  The next new webpages to be launched will contain information on the city’s decision-making and job recruitment.

Join our developer community

A developer community made up of residents of Helsinki has assisted the website renewal project by both providing feedback and testing the new webpages before they are published. User feedback will be important even after the renewal project is completed, as, for instance, services and hel.fi pages that are used most frequently will be highlighted on the website’s main page. 

We invite all interested inhabitants of the city to join our developer community. Themes the community will consider this autumn include nature areas, outdoor activities, and social services for adults, young people and newcomers to the area. Content on the city’s maintenance of streets, parks and public buildings will also be considered.

Join the City of Helsinki developer community 

You can also give direct feedback on the City of Helsinki’s webpages at any time with the city’s online feedback form.  If you want a personal response to your feedback, send us your contact information on the form and we will respond accordingly. It is also possible to provide feedback on the content by clicking on the feedback button at the bottom of each individual webpage. All feedback will be taken into consideration in the further development of the website.

Feedback form

New themed sites of Hel.fi.
Photo: Kuvakollaasi.