Day #050: A better City website

With the UCI World Championships on the horizon, waiting to build a new website is unacceptable. 

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and the intro here.

  • Idea: Build a City website that reflects the spirit and energy of RVA.
  • Difficulty: 1 — The cost of waiting is greater than the cost of doing nothing at all.

2015 promises to be one of the most important years for Richmond in recent memory. Plenty of exciting and important things are happening, but next year will undoubtedly climax with the 2015 Union Cycliste Internationale Road World Championships.

For several years, Virginia Commonwealth University has worked hard to raise funds to build the Institute of Contemporary Art at the corner of Broad and Belvidere. At the core of every fundraiser’s pitch: we need money in order to break ground as soon as possible so we can showcase our university on the world stage. Just blocks from one of the main exits on I-95, the ICA will be the gateway to the 2015 UCI World Championships.

Thanks to VCU’s foresight, 450,000 visitors will be welcomed with a wow. But millions more will peek into our city from afar, and for many, the City’s website is the cyber equivalent of Broad and Belvidere–only right now, the website is still a parking lot instead of a landmark in the making.

In addition to learning from the building, should take a cue from the ICA’s actual website. Watching that video makes me want to jump in the Delorean with Doc Brown and head to the future. From border to border, Richmond is just as exciting and the first thing our website should do is communicate that.

Information is important, but the City’s homepage tries to accomplish so much that it accomplishes nothing at all. Three month old city “news,” the YouTube channel, and the “2011 Best of the Web Finalist” award can be placed on neatly designed pages elsewhere on the website. It isn’t just the rigid municipal blasé that leaves plenty to be desired, the search function and site flow aren’t effective at locating information. Sydney’s website is a good example of potential.

Most importantly, there isn’t a mobile version of the City’s website. The mobile future is here, and unfortunately, the City’s website is stuck in its award winning 2011. This change is essential before throngs of visitors take to our streets. is energetic and inviting, but there is no link to it from the City’s site. The day the event was announced, Richmond should have had a banner on every page of the website with a link to

Not sharing your city is a much smaller problem than not having a city worth sharing. Richmond is a city worth sharing. The ICA will welcome and impress visitors well after the conclusion of cyclemania, but it’s worth expediting for this momentous occasion. The same holds true for Building a website that reflects the energy and spirit of RVA is an investment that will yield returns for years to come, but leaving it as is until after this huge event is too big of a cost to bear.

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

  • error

    Report an error

Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

There is 1 reader comment. Read it.