In part one of a two-part series, award-winning CIO, Daniel Bourdeau of the City of Westland joins us for this edition of Digital Expert’s Corner where he shares his strategic and data-driven focus on the customer.
What’s the overall mission of the city’s site?
Our mayor brought his business savvy and customer service sensibility with him when he was elected. In all respects, we try and treat our residents and business owners as clients. We realize they have a choice where they invest their tax dollars and we feel that choice is largely driven by the type of customer service they receive. The reason we have a website is so that we can ensure that we engage with our customers 24/7/365. And that engagement is purpose-built the way the customer wants it.
I noticed that you have “open government” as a menu item on your site. I haven’t seen that outside of Florida.
In our region, transparency and openness are really demanded by our constituency. We wanted to create a one-stop-shop for our clients. Open government was baked-in to our initial design from the very start. We celebrate Sunshine Week and put up a branded page to draw attention to it. To be perfectly candid, that page doesn’t present any new information it just creates new call-to-awareness about something that has always been there. Open government is the weft of the fabric of the city.
What’s your practice with Analytics?
We rely heavily on our Google Analytics and take a deep dive monthly. We pull apart our top and bottom performing pages and try to close the gap between them. This analysis has largely driven the executive decision that the content developed by my staff captures the correct voice, tone and design sense as opposed to content created by the departments which has historically underperformed.
After we pull the pages apart, we get together with the department to discuss how to make their content more engaging. The analytics then become a conversation tool for collaboration. It becomes less of a debate; it’s pure numbers—so it’s easier to slice and dice.
I only have seconds to grab the resident’s attention, so we have to do it well, and we have to do it often. If we have a site that underperforms then residents go to other places to get information, which means we have no control over the accuracy of the content. Websites are powerful tools, but if you don’t maintain them, you can lose that control rather quickly. We are keen on providing a good, consistent product. All this is to say; I pay close attention to bounce rates. I want residents on the site for minutes, not seconds.
Join us next week for the rest of our conversation with Daniel. In the meantime, if you are interested in how to make your content more effective, check out our “Hands-on Guide to Content Strategy.”