Your citizens want to access your website for news, information, resources, and self-service tools to help them live a comfortable and engaging life in their community.
Citizen participation strategy should be the basis of your municipal website. The problem, however, is that despite the best of intentions, it can be challenging to create the kind of digital experience that citizens want. Without proper guidance, local governments can easily fall into common traps that often damage the reputation of public sector websites.
The good news is that government agencies never intend to develop substandard solutions. Instead, they fall into the trap of the most common and avoidable mistakes. Before your next website redesign, take a moment to consider our recommendations for avoiding common government website design mistakes.
Following the strategies and tips discussed below will help you create stunning websites that meet all government website standards.
Not Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly
The biggest mistake most new website designers will make is not making their website mobile-friendly. According to research, more than 2 billion people use smartphones to access the Internet. 72% of people prefer to use smartphones to surf the web instead of using desktop computers. If your audience cannot access your website via smartphones, they will not be able to see your information, resulting in the loss of citizen interaction.
When designing your website, make sure it has a fast loading time, images visible in the easy-to-navigate interface, buttons for sharing logos and fonts, fast scrolling, and other such functions to organize content according to your management settings.
Not Maintaining the Proper Content Hierarchy
The ability to quickly search your website to find the information is what you need for a feature-rich and information-rich digital experience. Local governments tend to fall into a trap when developing the system structure and content hierarchy of their websites, which consists of thinking about the composition of content from the perspective of departments and services, rather than the vision of the citizens over local governments.
More importantly, the information citizens are looking for and how many steps they need to take to access the most used web pages are not fully considered or prioritized. People cannot use the information they cannot find. Many websites provide incorrect category names that cannot adequately or accurately describe the content.
If the structure of the website does not match the user’s mental flow of how they want the information to be arranged, people will not be able to find what they need. Involve users in creating the structure of your website. A small amount of usability work, such as card sorting, tree testing, or usability testing, can go a long way toward creating a site structure that is meaningful to users.
Many government departments are concerned with the content on their site. Being developed on an outdated platform, few people know how to manage it, and the platform no longer reflects the community brand and displays outdated and incorrect information.
Another common misconception is that we see that some communities want to put too much information on their websites, especially when the old website continues to add more and more content over time. While transparency and open government are essential standards, it is important to continually evaluate the content available on your website and ensure that you only regularly provide the content that citizens want and need.
It’s also important to organize your content in a way that ensures that citizens can easily find what they need. With slow loading and long login pages, online users won’t wait long to load your website. According to the New York Times report, if a website is 250 milliseconds slower than a competitor’s website, the number of times users visit the website will decrease. So, you need a fast-loading web page and the first page should have content that can provide information quickly.
Additional features like videos, audio files, and complex graphics on the home page need to be moved to another part of the website. This is because you want your audience’s attention to stay on the most important services. Therefore, provide a short description and use concise graphics to attract readers.
These are among the most common mistakes to avoid while creating government websites. Following the guidelines presented above, you’ll not only be able to avoid the common design mistakes but the website you are working on will meet the necessary government website standards as well.
So, follow the strategies discussed above and you can come up with a government website that gives value to its users.