Yarra Ranges Shire Council in Australia has cut calls and emails to customer service centre using a new website.

Fewer customer service requests can help local governments save on manpower and cut service delivery costs.

Yarra Ranges partnered with OpenCities to build a new website that allows citizens to self-serve. Users can track service requests online, allowing council staff to address more complex issues. A dedicated section on the site allows residents to see information specific to their neighbourhood, like their next trash collection date.

The redesigned website is structured around citizens’ tasks, rather than the council’s business units. OpenCities used analytics to find out what transactions and information users to come to the website for, making these prominent on the homepage.

For example, payments, burning restrictions, storms, waste and building planning are the top services used by citizens.

Yarra Ranges’ previous website had 1,000 different pages, making it hard for residents, local businesses and tourists to find what they are looking. Large amounts of information and documents on the old website were found to be unnecessary, and were removed from the new one.

The website’s predictive search function suggests pages and services to users as they type in their query. It is also responsive to mobile devices, making it easier to use on the go.

Websites like Yarra Ranges’ allow more people to find information and complete transactions without visiting a service centre or making a call.

OpenCities has studied the performance of Australian local government websites. It is developing a shared digital platform for city councils using these learnings.

If you would like to hear more from OpenCities, download the full report below.