When you’ve worked with local government IT and communications leaders every day for more than 20 years, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict the major trends that will impact local government in 2017.
Here are the 5 trends that we believe will drive local government websites and digital services over the next year:
1. User Experience Will Matter More Than Ever
Accenture’s 2016 Public Service Pulse Survey found that 85 percent of U.S. citizens expect government digital services to be the same or higher quality as those of commercial organizations – up 12 percent from 2014. Yet, the most significant obstacle to using digital services from government is “poor website organization.”
What can you do to improve the user experience for your website?
- Explore low-cost ways to analyze usability, like Google Analytics and user surveys.
- Continually refine your website’s navigation and homepage based on web analytics and user feedback.
- Organize your website to reflect the needs of residents, rather than the internal structure of government.
2. Content Strategy is Key to Helping Residents Perform Tasks Online
In the same Public Service Pulse Survey, 41 percent of respondents cited “poorly organized or dense information” as a top obstacle to using digital government services. Overcoming this challenge requires an effective content strategy focused on clear, succinct and actionable information.
How can you ensure success with your content strategy?
- Review website analytics and remove infrequently accessed pages.
- Train all content contributors to write effectively for the web.
- Eliminate legalese and present information in plain-language that can easily be understood.
See how Vision's Content Strategy Services can increase the website effectiveness by making sure that content is written with your community in mind.
3. Web Accessibility Standards are on the Horizon
New rules on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance for websites will be issued in 2018.
How can you do to stay ahead of the accessibility curve?
- Stay ahead of the curve by making website accessibility compliance a strategic imperative.
- Update your staff on accessibility guidelines and ensure that they are trained to write content that is accessible to people with various disabilities.
- Develop an accessibility policy and publish it on your website.
Get up to speed on accessibility by reading our blog post on "Almost Everything You Need to Know About Local Government Website Accessibility."
4. Community Engagement will Takeoff
Engagement takes many forms -- voice-to-voice, face-to-face, mobile and social.
How can you make sure that your messages are consistent across all platforms?
- Building community engagement takes time; so begin to regularly ask residents for opinions on small, everyday issues.
- Nurture the habit of engagement by sharing how resident feedback impacts decisions.
- Explore new engagement methods, like blogging and video, to help tell stories better.
Find out more about visionPulse, Vision's community engagement product, and read this blog post on boosting engagement via your local government website.
5. Cybersecurity Concerns will Skyrocket
Despite highly publicized national attacks in 2016, state and local governments are especially vulnerable to cyber attacks and other security breaches. Accenture’s 2016 Cybersecurity Report says government organizations rank at the bottom of all industries in terms of security.
How can you be more "cyber-aware" in 2017?
- Stay current on the potential risks and threats.
- Make sure you have policies covering data breach notification, disaster recovery, IT service continuity, remote access, employee departure and acceptable use.
- Perform a cybersecurity self-assessment audit to make sure critical systems are protected from attacks with an effective solution.
- Review your disaster recovery plans and make sure key vendors are prepared as well.
Read our blog post on dealing with cybersecurity threats.