At the core of modern companies is a customer-centric approach that considers every detail of the customer's experience, from usability to branding. Websites in particular have ushered in the trend with the user experience design concept, making sites intuitive and easy to use.

Gainesville, Fla. is trying to marry this approach with urban design. Anthony Lyons, city manager for Gainseville, is trying to make his home the best place to live and work by understanding how people live and work, and then making it better - essentially bringing in the city's residents as co-designers to make it a better space for themselves. The solution that arose: The Department of Doing.

It will be a physical office, a one-stop shop for obtaining all the permits needed to open a business or develop real estate, as well as a web platform (both of which are still under development). The office will be staffed with a new kind of employee, Sherpa-like "action officers" which the city is now in the process of hiring. In September, Gainesville appointed the Department of Doing's first director, Wendy Thomas, a former Gainesville resident and urban planner by training who was previously director of community development in Bozeman, Montana.

Instead of running around to the Department of Planning, the Department of Buildings, and the Department of Public Works, a citizen will only need to visit the Department of Doing to get the information they need and have the right points of contact within the city.

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