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City Builder by Citi

For 200+ years, Citi Group has been on a mission to drive economic growth and progress for clients, firms, and communities. Citi Ventures, the bank’s VC and incubator arm, invests in and develops solutions to tackle growth challenges at the macro level. One strategic priority for the group is lessening the disparity in development between cities in the US, and between neighborhoods within cities. We worked with the group to design City Builder, a data-informed urban economic development platform that provides deep insight into the needs of each community to build more equitable, resilient cities.

Best of Urban Design, Honorable Mention

TOP Challenge Winner, Building Thriving Communities

Intuitive access to deep insights on all 84,000 US census tracts

City Builder surfaces neighborhood-level insights to give investors, municipalities and regional organizations the data they need to make better decisions to improve communities. The platform centralizes population demographics, climate trends, real estate trends, walkability, education/medical/food access, employment trends and more from all 84,000+ US census tracts into one easy to use platform. It simplifies the previously tedious task of gathering all this data to evaluate a potential investment or development.

Website visitor using map tool
Web design user testing session

Understanding a diverse set of user audiences

We employed an iterative design approach and several rounds of research to understand the diverse needs of each audience, including:

  • Investors and fund managers considering where they can make an impact
  • Developers considering the needs of the communities they are building in
  • Community orgs looking to build block-level understanding of the people and places they serve

We joined the City Builder team in interviewing over 100 potential users of the platform to understand how they conduct research now and uncovered a patchwork process riddled with data gaps and manual data collection.

Low Fidelity Prototyping & Research

A series of task-based wireframes were created for each of the core user audiences and used to validate how City Builder could streamline the research process for each of the key audiences. We used this as a stimulus in research and identified several key takeaways:

  1. Search-led UX: A flexible set of filter and search tools is key to help users navigate the large amount of data in City Builder.
  2. Explain in context: To support users who are less familiar with census tracts and opportunity zones, the platform should provide straight-forward explanations of industry terminology in context in the UI.
  3. Paint a picture: Development and population demographic data alone aren’t enough to build an understanding of an area you’re not familiar with. Additional quality of life data and information about key landmarks and institutions nearby were needed to round out the picture.

We iterated on towards high fidelity, refining key parts of the navigation to make searching and filtering front and center, adding in context explanation to explain industry jargon, and adding additional data types.

Let's partner to build for positive impact.

High Fidelity Design

Take City Builder with you on the go

The progressive mobile web app gives you full access to City Builder from your mobile device, via browser or as a home screen shortcut.

The Impact

City Builder is now a go-to data source helping investors, developers and NGOs make a positive impact on communities in the US. It has since expanded to several other countries including parts of Italy, Jordan and Togo. City Builder was recognized by Fast Company’s Best of Urban Design awards in 2020, and won the US Census Bureau’s T.O.P. Prize Challenge for its impact in the Building Thriving Communities category.

Fast Company Best of Urban Design, Honorable Mention, 2020

US Census Bureau
T.O.P. Prize Challenge Winner