City unveils easier-to-use test website

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The screen that greets visitors to Boston’s beta website.
The screen that greets visitors to Boston’s beta website.

Web users trying to traverse the frustrating maze of that is the city's website, take note.

A newly redesigned site — brighter, bolder, bluer — is here, though for now, it's just a test.

Think big city with a heart, a warmer, gentler one. No acronyms.

"Beautifully designed, delightful to use, and thoroughly useful,'' boasts the site in its debut Thursday at .

The site features a large image with soft blue background and bold white letters reading "Boston.Gov."

It is a result of months of planning and input from the public, said the city's chief digital officer, Lauren Lockwood.


An audit of more than 20,000 indexed pages suggested that using the site was a drag, she said.

"We heard from residents who mentioned how difficult it can be to search through departments and find the right information on the current website," Lockwood said.

The pilot site previews topics pages, based on how readers think about an issue. Three topics are on the site for now — starting a business, having a car in the city, and winter preparedness.

The city's digital team will eventually add more topics and information from the various city departments.

The redesign is being led by the city's digital team, along with IDEO, an award-winning global design company, and Boston-based Acquia, a local technology provider. The cost of the redesign is $880,800, officials said .

Lockwood stressed the pilot website is a work in progress, expected to grow and change in the coming months. A full launch of the new site is expected later in the year.

In the meantime, the current website — — will hum along as usual.

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.