Government & Politics  August 24, 2021

Google UX researcher helps Boulder residents connect to city services

BOULDER — When Boulder launched its updated city website this summer it featured a new platform, built with the help of local Google employees, aimed at making it easier for residents to connect with public service providers. 

User experience (UX) researcher Elizabeth Dressler, who works at Google’s Boulder campus on Pearl Street, was part of a team of Googlers who embedded with city staffers for six month as part of a Google.org Fellowship program, which provides municipalities and nonprofit groups with employee time and labor pro bono to develop the Boulder for Me platform.

“I was essentially acting as a city employee, and it was really cool because it was my first time getting to volunteer some of my professional skills as a UX researcher,” Dressler told BizWest. 

Boulder for Me serves as a one-stop-shop that allows locals to research, connect with and apply for a range of city services from child care subsidies to residential solar power grants. 

The goal is simple, Dressler said: “To make residents more aware of what’s available to them” and to help those in need access services. That goal jibes with Boulder’s overall aim for the website relaunch.

“We’ve created our website in a new way that strives to organize services and information so they are intuitive for community members and not based on department structure. This reflects our commitment to making government more accessible,” Boulder city manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde said in a prepared statement this summer when the new site launched. “Our goal with this website is to better meet your needs, save you time and deliver exceptional customer service online.”

Dressler “worked with deputy directors of departments [to get a high level understanding of available services and needs], but I also spent time going to the library and sitting down with librarians, going to the rec center and sitting down with the staff [members] who sit behind the counter,” she said. “We tried to get input and knowledge from as many city employees as possible.”

After gathering research from city staff, Dressler turned her attention to local residents and public service users. 

“There’s a network of information that moves around between city departments and nonprofits and that happens in a bunch of different ways: word of mouth, emails, fliers,” she said. “There’s tons of great information out there, but it hasn’t been centrally located.”

In the past, residents often had to visit with staffers in person to learn about the service available to them — an often onerous task made more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Often a resident comes in only looking for one specific service, but [city] employees are aware of all these other services that they could benefit from,” Dressler said. “One of the beautiful things about these employees is how knowledgeable they are about everything that’s out there.”

Boulder for Me takes all of this institutional knowledge and catalogs it online for easy access.

During her six-month tenure working with the city, Dressler was able to devote all of her working time to the Boulder for Me project, which she called “deeply rewarding.”

When she moved to Boulder about three years ago, “one of my goals was to really understand the city better,” Dressler said. The fellowship program put her in a position not only to get to know the city better but also to help the city. 

“It was honestly a life-changing experience for me,” she said. “It felt so cool working with my community and delivering something to a population that really needed it.”

© 2021 BizWest Media LLC

BOULDER — When Boulder launched its updated city website this summer it featured a new platform, built with the help of local Google employees, aimed at making it easier for residents to connect with public service providers. 

User experience (UX) researcher Elizabeth Dressler, who works at Google’s Boulder campus on Pearl Street, was part of a team of Googlers who embedded with city staffers for six month as part of a Google.org Fellowship program, which provides municipalities and nonprofit groups with employee time and labor pro bono to develop the Boulder for Me platform.

“I was essentially acting as a city employee,…

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