The city of Helsinki chose us as their digital companion for a long-term strategic partnership in the summer of 2018. Our aim is to develop, clarify and improve the Culture and Leisure sector’s digital service offering. We are completely transforming the ways in which the City of Helsinki approaches and interacts with the citizens of Helsinki online by making a wide range of services more accessible and attractive through
seamless digital solutions.
The Culture and Leisure Sector supports people’s mental and physical well-being, active citizenship and general knowledge of the city and its activities. It has three divisions: Culture, Sports, and Youth. They include the city’s cultural services, sports facilities, and youth work. Their operations emphasize the freedom to choose, to be yourself and to find activities that interest you the most.
In 2018, the city of Helsinki had over 130 incoherent sites for different services and activities. Different departments and sections had been creating sites that communicated in a one-way manner and neglected the needs of the users. Neither the citizens of Helsinki nor the people working for the city knew where to find relevant information. The culture and leisure sector did not have a clear digital strategy or goals to work towards, and a lot of resources were wasted by keeping an incoherent system in place.
The sites were difficult to maintain and to update. Information was all over the place, the site architectures were rigid and target groups were not defined clearly. We wanted to understand the city’s digital services as a whole, create a long-term plan for the future and give users much-needed attention.
Achieving changes required us to dive deep into the needs, motivations, and expectations of Helsinki’s people. The whole project is not just about renewing websites related to culture and leisure services or combining old services together – we want to understand the overall service path of users so that we can serve them seamlessly in the online environment.
We took a service design approach to get into the core of the challenge: we defined different user segments and their unique characteristics to find out how digital services can best support their needs. We’re looking at culture and leisure activities as one whole to avoid separating essential information into silos.
Over 4000 citizens participated in the process of designing Helsinki’s new digital services by answering questionnaires and taking part in interviews, workshops and safaris. The city’s culture and leisure sector professionals from a number of different levels and professions also had a big impact on the design process.
We have built a complete roadmap for the culture and leisure sector in close collaboration with the Helsinki team. First, we determined the vision for the city’s digital services and a big-picture plan for what should be accomplished with the upcoming services. The main idea of the roadmap is to implement a seamless service path and a quality user experience. The goal was to provide a comprehensive image of Helsinki’s service offering and intuitive ways to find information.
The city’s service offering is divided into four large categories: events, youth, sports, and culture. Individual sites were born from a user-driven approach: we researched how people understand the concepts of culture and free time as well as their sub-categories, be it arts, culture, sports or outdoor activities. We also identified international brands that have the right to stand out from the rest. For example, Oodi can be seen as the flagship of Finland – it is a very well-known international brand and the new pride of Helsinki that expects 2.5 million visitors per year. It was important for Oodi to have its own identity.
A number of goals have been achieved, but there is still a lot of work to do in order to achieve the bold target of creating the world’s best digital culture and leisure city. One digital service at a time, we will continue to make the lives of 631 695 habitants of Helsinki and its numerous visitors more convenient.