How do we make government services more accessible?

The Challenge

Making it pleasant for residents to engage local government

It can be difficult to find out which government benefit programs you qualify for — information and ease of use are key barriers for families looking to avail themselves of government-provided programs. To make these challenges a bit easier for residents, the City of New York partnered with us to develop cost-effective public tools that could be easily maintained by their team on an ongoing basis.

The Approach

Designing to fit into the lives of real New Yorkers

As part of our agile process, we led an extensive user-centered design process. We went where our target users were: libraries. Members from design, UX, tech, and product (from both the City and Blue State Digital side) recruited testers on the spot to try out prototypes with our latest iterations of copy and design so that our volunteers could respond to how the tools felt and behaved.

The Platforms

Easy to use — and easy to maintain

We designed and built Growing Up NYC, which offers information on programs, resources, and activities for young people throughout the city, along with descriptions, eligibility requirements, and information on how residents can apply and get access to the right services. We also helped the city develop a new iteration of ACCESS NYC, a public online screening platform in which residents answer a brief set of questions to discover whether they’re eligible for food, money, housing, or work benefit programs — and find out how to apply.

These platforms represent the city’s first use of cloud hosting, making them more cost-effective and easier to maintain by the City compared to previous iterations. The user-friendly admin interface allows the city to easily update ACCESS’s screening criteria when needed.

The Results

City residents are finding what they need

Blue State Digital and the City were able to build a “minimum viable product” version of Growing Up NYC in three months, allowing it to launch alongside new policy frameworks and non-digital marketing efforts aimed to reach more parents and children. And since the launch of the ACCESS NYC redesign, the average number of New Yorkers completing the eligibility screening process each month has increased by over 70%, and the rate of completion has increased by over 50%.

See More of Our Work