Our team collaborated with members of the Los Angeles Fire Department and the city’s MIS team to recreate a new look and feel for the LAFD’s web presence. It was an interesting project, and there is no doubt that dealing with any large bureaucracy is a challenge for everyone.
Every new project has objectives and requirements. In this case, we were required to use an existing content management system, an existing set of data, but to otherwise create a website that would help the department reach the public more effectively.
The entire project, from initial dialog to launch was completed in less than a month. Our team, including lead designer James Kwok dove in and spent considerable time evaluating what would make things better, while staying within the scope of work as defined by the Fire Chief. We spoke to firefighters. We spoke to citizens. We asked our friends. And, while you can’t see the previous site, there was a consensus that it was not as effective as the semi-original site from 2001.
Given the opportunity, we might have liked spending even more time preparing an architecture that was totally “communications driven,” but even so, this new site is fun, fast, and filled with great content. One of the key things we added was video. Today, a website really needs to communicate to the audience in a topical manner – and video is the way to get that done.
When a large city, such as Los Angeles, needs to communicate with the public, there are multiple resources relative to the mechanics of outreach. Having the staffing, experience, and training to properly communicate is something completely different. The LAFD, in its wisdom, knows that expanding communications is a process. The first step was to launch the new site. The second step to improve some of the services provided. Now, the step we’re in the midst of is creating quality content that people will want to read.
The LAFD blog, managed by Firefighter Specialist Brian Humphrey, is a separate site, created using Blogger from Microsoft. It works well, and Brian has done a fantastic job of creating a lot of information, with nearly zero budget. Step four may be integrating the blog into the navigation and template structure of the LAFD dot org site. Check back in a month or two, and hopefully, we’ll have an update to share.