Governments have taken a page from their private counterparts and started to reach out to their citizens in the digital world. They have discovered that a strong Web presence is a vital part of what they do: it helps provide citizens with critical information and gives them access to important tools and services like driver’s licence renewals and tax forms.
Although many governments have made great strides in offering services online, there is still room for improvement. Vision Internet, a company that specializes in government website development, has come out with five tips that will help municipal governments build their Web presence in 2014.
“In 2013 we saw a fundamental shift in the relationship between residents and local governments,” said Ashley Fruechting, director, strategic initiatives. “Public officials who recognize this are embracing the power of today’s website technology and using it to build public trust. Local government can no longer afford to lag behind the latest website technology.”
Vision Internet says that simplicity is key to government website design, and Fruechting believes 2014 will be the year municipal governments embrace this concept. To achieve this, the content management software itself must be user-friendly for editors, and the site must be easy for visitors to navigate. The company also thinks that branding is an important part of website design, as it is integral to capturing the spirit of the community, encouraging tourism, and attracting the best talent for local businesses.
Additionally, Vision Internet believes that governments will start to take advantage of mobility and social media. Studies have found that people are starting to spend more and more of their online time on mobile devices, so governments must optimize their websites for use on traditional PCs, smartphones, and tablets. They must also begin to post updates on Twitter and Facebook so that citizens can more easily access and share information.
Most important, Vision Internet thinks 2014 will be the year governments embrace transparency. Many governments already make information such as salaries and expenditures publicly available on their websites; Fruechting believes governments will become even more proactive in this area in the coming year.
“Transparency coupled with advanced website technology empowers [governments] to increase access and engagement with the people they serve,” she said. “Vision Internet customers who understand this were recognized by their peers and fellow professionals this year with more than 30 awards for website design and functionality. Vision Internet will continue to look ahead at what’s next to help local leaders find new opportunities to make their communities strong and prosperous.”