Craig Johnson 14 June 2017

Nine top tips for a successful local government website design

Local government bodies have complex needs and objectives, which can be hard to translate digitally. Because they’re so different from commercial business’ websites, public sector website design needs a unique approach to engage with audiences and reach business goals.

From our experience, we’ve put together these nine top tips for successful public sector website design:

1. Set clear website goals

The chances are that you’ve got many different stakeholders. A good digital agency will carry out prebuild and discovery work to find out what you want your website to achieve. Then make sure that all your audiences are considered in the design and build of the website. It’s crucial that every aspect of your site is developed with these goals in mind to achieve them.

2. Prioritise good UX

Citizens visit council websites to accomplish a goal, not to admire the graphic design. The whole site should be designed with the user experience (UX) and task completion in mind. This is especially true for the home page. Positioning the most important and popular content provides a clear roadmap to users. Helping them quickly and efficiently locate information and complete desired tasks.

3. Keep information up-to-date

The chances are people will be relying on your website for important information. And you may have many website editors from different departments. A good CMS, which lets you easily edit and update content, is vital. If you’re relying on developers and enhancements, your users will go somewhere else to get what they need.

4. Have reliable infrastructure and hosting

As you’re providing a valuable public service, the last thing you want is for your site to be slow or experience frequent outages. Page load speed is directly related to the quality of your solution’s architecture and hosting capabilities. If one or the other aren’t powerful enough for your amount of content or visitors, your website will suffer. Data security is also a big consideration for local councils. So, it’s important your solution is built to best practice and your hosting provider prioritises security.

5. Consider accessibility requirements

This is Important for every website, but more so for local government bodies. Serving the public means your website needs to be accessible to everyone. Those with visual impairments should be able to adjust the font size on your website and, if possible, you should consider having audio for those who can’t read the text.

6. Optimise for SEO

The information on any website is worthless if potential visitors don’t know it’s there. Government departments need to use search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques so users can easily find their sites and the information they contain. By strategically using keywords, descriptive page titles, clear language and other SEO best practices, local authorities can drive traffic to their site and help users find the information they need.

7. Responsive design

Responsive design is absolutely crucial to local government website design. Especially as mobile browsing continues to rise in popularity. These days, users expect to access high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime and on any device, in a secure manner. This means your website needs to be responsive to any and all mobile devices, automatically adjusting for the screen size, platform and orientation of the user’s device.

8. Third party integration

It’s likely that you’re already using a number of third party systems, outside of your website content management platform. But, if these systems aren’t working together, you’ll struggle to keep information updated or get the best out of each system. Integrating your internal databases, CRM’s and payment software will not only benefit you, but also give your users a more relevant and seamless experience.

9. Choose an agency that you can rely on

It’ll come as no surprise that councils bodies often face more scrutiny than private companies. After all, it’s usually tax payers’ money that they’re spending. And with recent cuts, budgets may be tight. With that in mind, you need to appoint an agency that offers value, quality, transparency and accountability. Do due diligence and use an agency registered on the governments’ digital marketplace.

Craig Johnson is director of Kagool

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