An effective local government website serves, represents and delights its visitors. Counties face a unique challenge delivering on these goals because they tend to be large, decentralized and less-visible to their residents than their local city or town. So how do counties establish themselves online and provide real value to their residents? They start by understanding their citizens.
#1: Identify Your Visitors’ Top Tasks
Our analytics have shown people come to county websites to perform tasks, such as paying taxes, looking up inmates, getting court information and accessing records. Digging into your county’s analytics can show you what your residents seek the most.
Compare your top 10 pages with what’s featured in your site navigation and call to action buttons. Is it easy to find key pathways to the most wanted information? Carver County, Minnesota selected 6 key links to turn into action buttons on their homepage, based on what their residents requested most. This small design addition has a big impact in helping visitors find what they need.
#2: Keep Content Customer-Focused
With so many legal processes and facts to convey, counties must make a special effort to avoid jargon and legalese. It’s especially confusing when counties hide important transactional features amidst long legal explanations of why they exist. Instead, write simple, succinct, action-oriented content that allows customers to understand what is required of them – and give them visual cues to help them accomplish their task. Check out our Hands-On Content Strategy Guide for more tips.
Somerset County, New Jersey does a great job quickly explaining the services they provide on their Tax Board page and listing documents available for download. It’s easy to scan, and quick for residents to access relevant information.
#3: Don’t Forget About Branding
With so many important tasks to accomplish, counties often neglect the branding on their website. A county may not need heaps of “personality”, but their websites should still represent the flavor and uniqueness of the community.
Monterey County, California, does a great job representing itself as an attractive tourist destination and place to live with a website that features historic attractions and breathtaking vistas.
Look to Your Customer
Understanding customer needs and designing experiences to fulfil them are key to building an effective county website. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, check your analytics and make sure your site gives them the guidance they need. Make your site easy to navigate and simple to read, and don’t forget to give visitors a taste of your community’s unique flavor.
If you want to learn more about building a great county website or to get a free consultation about how to improve your website, here are additional resources:
- Jackson County Illinois Uses Vision’s UX Process to Develop New Website
- What are CS, UX/CX and UID and How do They Lead to Happier Visitors?
At Vision, we specialize in helping agencies research and implement user-focused improvements, and are always happy to discuss your particular needs. Request a free consultation now.