In March 2017, Waterfront Toronto issued Request for Proposals, a call for an innovation and funding partner for Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront. Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet Inc.'s urban innovation organization, responded with a vision to make Toronto the global hub for urban innovation. Two years later, Sidewalk Toronto and Waterfront Toronto have worked together to respond to the RFP by sharing their vision via a website and a 1000+ page book with Toronto’s city officials to lead to a vote on their bid.
Using 16:9 video, 360° video and ambisonic audio, users were able to partake in experiences the average park visitor never gets to see. We shot from helicopters, mountain tops, horseback, and underwater, resulting in over eleven terabytes of footage gathered over twenty-six days and 18,949 miles, edited down to a final experience of twenty-five minutes.
One of the main considerations I took into account when creating the information architecture for this site is the variety of users that will visit it. The primary audiences, Toronto residents and urban enthusiasts, come to the site for information such as the day-to-day effects of Sidewalk Toronto’s plan for Quayside, Sidewalk Toronto’s goals and mission statement, how to voice concerns and get involved to advocate for their community.
The secondary audience is Toronto’s local government, who would be voting on accepting SWT’s bid, and the local Toronto press. These two audiences visit the site for business reasons, such as looking for updates and following the progress of SWT, as well as accessing additional resources and press kits.
There was a major dichotomy in how the site needed to present: the work needed to feel serious, answer a lot of questions, and have all of the details on the plans for development, but also inspire and excite Torontoians.
To tackle the challenge of the two audiences tiers, I created an information architecture based on everyone’s needs. The primary audience’s key actions are featured in the primary navigation. We know that the majority of the users are coming to the site to better understand Quayside, and it’s important that that information is clearly displayed to users when they land to convey the feeling of transparency. The secondary navigation includes items like ‘Participate’, ‘Documents’, ‘FAQ’, and all other resources members of the local government and press would need to fully understand SWT.
To balance the weight of the subject and volume of information, the page layouts use architectural renders, illustrations and infographics to clearly and transparently tell the story of Quayside. Informative pages ends with a PDF download of the proposal SWT submitted to the City of Toronto.