By Emily Thrasher, Product Manager
For the past year or so, the Curate team has been quietly working on a complete redesign of our client dashboard for local ordinance tracking, and over the next two months we will roll it out to all of our customers.
When I joined Curate full-time a year ago, we made an important realization: the weekly reports we were sending our customers didn’t tell the whole story about changing local policy issues.
The associations and corporations that use our civic intelligence software need to understand how discussions happening in municipal governments today fit into larger local policy trends. So we’ve rebuilt our dashboard to feel more like a chronological feed that is sortable by topic and location.
With the new design, clients can visually see where discussions are happening around the country, and at a glance see which topics came up within the last week.
This new feature will help all of our clients stay on top of local policy trends and quickly determine whether they need to spring into action to support or oppose an ordinance or resolution.
Say a client is tracking 12 separate local policy issues in six states. When they log in to Curate, they’ll see a map of their coverage area with pins dropped on all of the municipalities where one of the topics they cover has recently been mentioned in a city council agenda or meeting minutes. They’ll also see a listing of all of the topics they cover, and a notification next to each topic indicating how many discussions related to that topic came up in the last week (or whatever time period they select).
When they open a topic, they’ll see a chronological feed of related discussions, starting with the most recent on top. Within each document, they can quickly skip through the text to review each relevant mention.
Looking at each topic, clients will immediately be able to understand the history of local discussions on that subject.
As we’ve gotten to know our clients better, we’ve learned that not all local policy issues are created equal. Some topics come up every week but don’t require immediate action, while others only pop up every once in a while and demand an urgent response. The new design will help them prioritize their response to discussions on the topics they cover.
Rolling out these major improvements to our local policy monitoring tool is the fun part of working in a startup. We want to make sure the new features we introduce solve problems for our customers, so we created a customer advisory board last year to help us get to know our customers better.
That advisory board allowed us to take in feedback from customers about what would make our tool even more useful and translate that feedback into features we could create. Building those features required us to make significant changes on the backend, which led to new realizations about ways we could improve the user experience.
We’ve beta tested the new layout with a few customers, and the feedback has been excellent. Customers say the redesign helps them zero in on what’s important to them faster than in the past. And they love that they can get a bird’s eye view of the history of a specific topic in any municipality within seconds.
When a trade organization wants to update its members on the policy landscape across the state, or if they want to lobby the state government to pass legislation about an issue that is bubbling up at the local level, all they have to do is select that topic from the dashboard and they’ll instantly see the whole history of relevant discussions across the state for the time period they select.
It’s incredibly rewarding to roll the new design out to customers and hear that they love what we’ve built.