Stormwater Plan Review

Philadelphia Water Department

As the first and only responsive website for any major U.S. city’s regulatory stormwater management program, Philadelphia Water’s Plan Review website invites users to engage with its regulatory requirements on a new level of ease and sophistication.


The Philadelphia Water Department wanted to provide a more accessible stormwater management guidance manual, improve the quality of plan review submissions, and streamline the online application process.

Research revealed that 80% of PWD's users are on the site to either submit an application or to access the regulations manual, thus the primary navigation boldly contains only those two most sought-after actions. The application form uses trigger logic and conditional fields to ask only those questions required by each project's characteristics. The manual features always-on sidebar navigation and a robust search mechanism.

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To avoid overwhelming the users, the design was inspired by the “less, but better” philosophy. The minimal site leverages both a concise informational hierarchy and intuitive calls-to-action. Users are given an unobtrusive reading experience and can achieve their goals efficiently and without distraction.

The 700+ page guidance manual features its own local search and a “Read Next” control just above the guide's footer. Upon user interaction, this control dynamically loads the subsequent content to provide a seamless transition between sections. The application form is strategically segmented and governed by conditional trigger questions to minimize user distraction.

The project demanded new levels of collaboration across a vast & multi-disciplinary team.

Rick Orlosky Creative Director, Philadelphia Water Department