Would you appreciate, if the websites of your city, or its organizations, were well-organized, allowing you to quickly and easily find all the information you need? If the answer is yes, we are proud to inform you that we took part in their development. The new and fresh websites of Mesto Bratislava and Mestská knižnica Bratislava are ready for you already for a couple of months.
Capital city of Bratislava and its innovation team consider it an important mission to deliver digital services that address the real needs of the city's residents and thus increase the comfort of their everyday lives. The question that may come to mind is, how are they trying to achieve this goal?
The answer is, first of all, in-depth qualitative research and defining the problem to be addressed by the specific technological solution. In doing so, they ensure that the developed product will actually meet the needs of the inhabitants.
Open technologies also play an important role. The City of Bratislava is transparently publishing the code of the new city website on GitHub and inviting the general IT public to give feedback and comment on it. In doing so, they are also allowing other municipalities to reuse and adapt the code to their needs.
Last but not least, digital processes enable data collection, analysis and their use in planning new projects, focused, for example, on the improvement of available services. The survey highlighting services in need of innovation was also very helpful.
Since most of us are residents of the capital city and our profession is process optimization and application development, the assignment of the innovation team appealed to us. It was not only an exceptional job opportunity, but also allowed our participation in improving the standard of the offered services, thus contributing to the satisfaction of the residents. For this reason we did not hesitate to apply for the tender, in which we have succeeded.
Considering that the innovation team of the City of Bratislava works agilely with the help of an internal team of developers and external capacities, we were deployed in the projects where they needed the most help, in creating a new website for Bratislava City and City library. The goal was to design websites of these institutions to provide the information people need in a simple, clear and easy-to-understand way, as well as set up a user-friendly CMS that would allow the municipality's employees to easily create or edit new content.
Cooperation with project sponsor was well organized and did not require any changes. And so began the regular status meetings and active communication to assess the status of the project, without which it simply cannot be done. We didn't hesitate to use processes and tools that we are used to and that have worked well for us - for example, the Jira tool. This was followed by an internal division of tasks and the work could begin in earnest.
Repeating mistakes is not the mother of wisdom, and so we had to pay attention to the internal code review and merge, so we could detect possible errors that occurred during the initial development.
As far as design briefs were concerned, the tool Figma was a great help to us, through which we received briefs in the form of designed screens. This made it even easier for our collaboration and for it to efficiently take place in an online environment.
In this project, we were in the position of React frontend developers. We took care of what the websites would look like.
For the City and City Library website, we designed the data structure in the open-source system Strapi based on the client's specifications and incorporated it. We connected Next.js to API Strapi, so that it could be used as a CMS system.
We then added the individual additional sites to the CMS system as content. This way, the basis for future pages was created, which the end client - the City Council - can manage and add on their own.
For both projects we created an UI Kit, thanks to which the client will be able to use the individual components on other planned projects in the future.
We had no objections towards the technologies proposed by the client in the tender. We had worked with most of them in the past and the ones we were not familiar with provided a great opportunity for us to gain new experience. In the development we used:
The developed solutions used Next.js and Strapi.
Next.js - https://nextjs.org/
Strapi - https://strapi.io/
Innovation is our passion. And the opportunity to translate this passion into something that will help improve the functioning and everyday life in our capital city has been a strong motivation for us from the beginning.
What the client appreciated most about the collaboration was the expertise, technical quality and flexibility of our team. Although the client's assignment was initially a quite a challenge to us, we knew our team was ready to take on a larger project. There was no choice but to nimbly adapt to the current situation, the requirements and the documentation status.
Priorities! Every project has to have them and this one was no exception - we focused on the tasks that were most important to the client. And last but not least, our vision to do things in an agile way perfectly met the goal of the City's innovation team, which also facilitated a great collaboration.
Due to these being robust projects and the city operating on the principle of transparent procurement, where they procure services rather than the finished product to avoid dependence on a contractor, our collaboration expired before the sites were fully completed. Before the end of our collaboration, we had completed both projects to the point where another contractor or in-house developer could take over and continue our work seamlessly. This was greatly aided by thorough and clear documentation that detailed what we had created and made it easy for our successors to understand.