City of Melbourne 

Cogent Team:
Design, development and product

Project Timeframe:
6 weeks

About City of Melbourne 

The City of Melbourne is the local council for Victoria’s much-loved capital city. Melbourne is home to nearly 180,000 residents and 17,000 businesses and attracts around 3 million international visitors every year. As well as all the usual community services, projects and initiatives the Council delivers, the City of Melbourne also looks at ways to promote the city’s retail, hospitality and events.

Key to that effort is What’s On, a destination-centric brand that keeps locals and visitors up to date on what to see and do in the city. Communications include a website, various social media channels, and an email newsletter. Together, these platforms have a substantial community of followers, and support the City of Melbourne’s visitor economy.


The City of Melbourne’s own detailed market and user research showed that while the What’s On ecosystem was working well, the technology behind the website itself was ageing and struggled to meet user needs.

The City of Melbourne needed a robust and modern technological architecture to support the What’s On strategy now and into the future.

“Cogent got it. They really understood what we were trying to do, and brought significant experience and in-depth knowledge to the project.”

Irene Kalister, Head of Digital Marketing Projects at City of Melbourne


Cogent’s first project involved undertaking a review of the What’s On website. Once that was done, the team worked with City of Melbourne to create a site strategy. That included an architectural framework designed to achieve specific goals for each of the What’s On audiences.

“Cogent just got it,” says Irene Kalister, Head of Digital Marketing Projects. “They really understood what we were trying to do.”

Apart from the Council’s stringent security requirements, the team had a clean slate for choosing technology, from CMS selection through to hosting. Together, Cogent worked with Council’s marketing, digital, and technology teams to plan a solution that would meet the City of Melbourne’s needs while being sustainable and extensible.

With the strategy and planning complete, the final piece of the puzzle was to build and launch the new site.


The new What’s On website launched in mid-2020, and was an immediate success, even as Covid-19 was in full swing and Melbourne was in lockdown.

“We’ve had amazing responses from our business and event listers and our users around how intuitive the site is now, how well search works, and how fast it is compared to the old one.” Irene explains.

Now, businesses and event managers have a streamlined self-service portal, where they can manage their own listings, add extra details, photos, and more. They can also make changes themselves, whenever they’re needed.

This enriched content has improved the search experience, too. The new, increased level of listing detail has allowed for more fine-grained searching, which means much more targeted search results.

The new site has also proved fluid enough to meet changing user demands. Prior to Covid-19, city events were the most popular listings on the site, but now users have become more interested in what they can buy or experience online. The new site has automatically adapted to support those shifting needs.

Like Council itself, What’s On plays an important role for Melbourne – even in a pandemic.

“We’ve loved working with Cogent. They’ve been fantastic. It’s been a really great team and partnership experience.”

Irene Kalister, Head of Digital Marketing Projects at City of Melbourne

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