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  • Success Story
  • City of Unley

How the City of Unley, South Australia, Built a Customer-First Online Services Platform

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Driven by demand from a highly connected and digitally literate community, the City of Unley (an inner-city council of Adelaide, South Australia with a population of nearly 39,000) embarked on a human-centred design effort to build a transformative, services-led, customer-first website and online services platform. The organisation revolutionised its digital service delivery with Granicus solutions OpenCities and OpenForms, resulting in the City winning the “Customer Experience Award” in the 2022 ANZ Granicus Digital Government Awards.

“OpenCities gave us more tools - on our previous site the search function wasn’t easy to find, and it wasn’t as powerful.”
Karen Cini, Digital Communications Officer, City of Unley, South Australia


  • 94% customer satisfaction rating within first year
  • 84% decrease in paper forms
  • 20,000 online service transactions
  • $90k annual postage savings
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Simplifying processes with digital solutions

The City of Unley’s previous website had 300 menu items and was organised with a business focus rather than a customer one. In fact, a survey found that 60 percent of users couldn’t find what they were looking for on the site. Staff wanted to transform the complex, paper-based processes. A Council-endorsed strategy set out three guiding principles for the transformation:

  • Streamline service delivery around the community.
  • Discuss the importance of a customer lens on everything the city does.
  • Empower the City of Unley workforce.

City of Unley staff conducted eight months of research to ensure the new site design was customer-centric, which included looking at CRM data, reviewing customer surveys, evaluating Google analytics and heat mapping, and assessing site search result gaps. The Unley team used customer research to develop an Information Architecture (IA) which outlined and prioritised the menus, content, and services the community needed most.


Implementing a transformative online platform

Armed with research, data, and a newly designed IA, the City of Unley identified a new website and an embedded digital forms platform as essential tools to improve its digital service delivery. With OpenCities and OpenForms, the City provided a seamless, interactive user-friendly experience that integrated with Council systems and created staff processing efficiencies. The team adopted a cleaner, more compact menu and gave the search function a greater presence on the site.

Along with the painstaking research, the City conducted stakeholder engagement which was critical to its approach to overhauling the content and website layout. On the City of Unley’s previous site, the communications team managed all the content. With OpenCities, the team assigns content authors throughout the business to manage their own sections of the site. City of Unley staff across the organisation were brought along on the journey and were given extensive training and ongoing support to be confident in managing, building, and maintaining their own content and services.


Creating a customer-centric experience

Within the first 12 months of launching the new platform, the City’s customer satisfaction rating reached 94 percent. The City converted over 100 forms to digital services with OpenForms, giving residents more flexibility to conduct their business at their convenience. As a result of providing these digital offerings, the City of Unley has seen an 84 percent decrease in paper forms. Additionally, it realised unanticipated cost savings of $90,000 in annual postage costs and $60,000 in annual printing costs which it is reinvesting into other digital projects.

“We knew people wanted specific functions on the website and if we used a commodity CSS, we would have to do a lot of customisation. Open Cities already had a lot of the modules we wanted for our site and that would save us a lot of time.”
James Roberts, Business Systems and Solutions Manager, City of Unley, South Australia