Prior to reviewing plans with your website vendor, review this list if you want to build or rebuild a successful government website. Having been exposed to simple, intuitive, and inclusive experiences on business / non-government websites, citizens now anticipate the same kind of user experiences on government websites as well. Government websites provide several features, such as geo-targeted experiences, prominent services, searchable navigation, and more.
Citizens are generally satisfied and engaged when government websites are data-driven and deliver citizen-driven design elements. This comprehensive guide on best practices for government website design and user experience (UX) offers a website best practice checklist that can help government organizations build a website that supports impressive page speed performance, accessibility, and technology.
Although there are a few public sector websites that stand out as excellent models as well, several others fall short because of an oversight of these design / UX elements. Therefore, let’s examine some of the best UX elements that is a prerequisite for the success of a government website.
Top 8 Guidelines for enhanced Website Design user experience
People with various levels of practical experience use the internet and browse government websites. It’s crucial to remember that irrespective of what socio-economic situation they come from, or what infrastructure they operate on, users will anticipate the same seamless interactions they have with corporate or private sector websites.
Many users now recognize and relate to the kind of simple, intuitive experiences that these private sector websites offer. Therefore, providing the same kind of experience can aid in developing trust. And trust is essential if you want citizens to use the website with confidence.
The user always comes first on a successful website, government or otherwise. And every website should ensure visitors have a positive experience, even more, important when it is a government website. Visitors to the site will have certain expectations about its functionality and overall experience and can get irritated by a poor user experience, negatively affecting your organization’s reputation.
Your website’s user experience can be improved by following the steps below:
1. Stakeholder interviews
A website that is created for everyone will ultimately be unpopular. By interviewing internal and external stakeholders, including partners, employees, businesses, and public agencies, you can identify your audience, develop precise user profiles, and fine-tune your website’s goals.
2. Conduct thorough user surveys
Instead of building your website “outside in,” which takes into account the perspective of the user, agencies frequently build them “inside out,” reflecting the needs of the organization. User surveys help agencies understand what goals real visitors have for a website.
3. Review web analytics
Web analytics provides information about user behavior, the value of content, entry and exit points, and device types. Government organizations can use these metrics to understand user goals better and create enhanced user experiences. In addition, web analytics can provide insights into ways to encourage users to fill out forms, subscribe to newsletters, download content, and perform other beneficial actions on the website.
4. Simple and clear website layout
You must use a simple, clear, and functional website layout to make your citizen portal appealing. You must adhere to the principle of keeping it straightforward yet elegant since this is not a retail store website. The website design should be appropriate and useful for the site so that visitors can immediately tell that it is a government website and not a website for a private company.
5. Testing performance
The general public may have a certain perspective on finding information. Organizations can structure content so that it requires less cognitive effort by using card sort testing to identify patterns in how users categorize and prioritize information. This can in turn increase user satisfaction across website experiences.
6. Create a task-oriented home page
Government websites are visited by the public with a purpose, and not particularly to appreciate the aesthetics. Organizations need to design a home page that acts as a clear road map to assist users in finding information and completing desired tasks by strategically positioning the most significant used topics, features, and functions prominently.
7. Use UX design guidelines
Organizations must take into account the user experience (UX), which includes a site’s look and feel as well as its usability and focuses on how users interact with a website design. In order to meet citizens’ growing expectations for government websites, a website’s user experience (UX) can be designed to deliver a consistent UX that is in line with department goals and offers exceptional digital customer service.
8. Search engine optimization
Any website’s content is useless if potential customers are unaware of it. Government organizations must use search engine optimization strategies to make sure citizens can easily find their websites and the information they contain. Using keywords, descriptive page titles, and simple language are some SEO best practices that can help government organizations assist users in locating the information they require.
Here are some things to consider when designing a superior website strategy or outlining a new one:
- Clearly explain your website goals
Setting objectives and determining the purpose of the website are necessary components of project planning. Before making any significant changes or getting started on a new website, start by outlining exactly what you want it to accomplish.
Without specific goals, the content may not provide the best user experience.
Would you like to merely inform visitors? Do you desire engaged repeat visitors to your website? Think carefully about the experience you want visitors to have while using your website. As you create your website, keep those goals in mind.
- Start with a sitemap
A sitemap is a directory of pages that aids in the content discovery process for search engines like Google. It gives users and web crawlers a quick, intuitive overview of your website and text links to each page, indicating where they can go.
An essential component of SEO is the sitemap (SEO). Your website’s pages will rank higher in search results if you include keyword phrases in your sitemap.
The sitemap not only demonstrates to search engines how your website is structured, but it also offers useful “metadata” for every page, such as how frequently pages are updated and changed or how significant a page is in comparison to other pages on your website. All of these factors contribute to better SEO. A sitemap is a directory of pages that aids in the content discovery process for search engine optimization.
- Government websites require responsive design
Every year, mobile use grows, and smartphones and tablets are more popular than desktop computers as means of accessing the internet. A responsive website is one that functions and looks good on a mobile device (often a smaller one). Thanks to responsive design, visitors will always experience your website the same way no matter how or where they access it.
These elements can be found on responsive sites:
- Automatic resizing and moving of all text, making viewing easier
- It is easy to click on the buttons and links
- Vertical scrolling enabled by reorganizing content
- In full-screen mode, videos play smoothly
- Activate a data portal
An effective way to educate and involve your community is by using interactive maps on your website. This is due to the rising public demand for online information and the fact that you can assist constituents by offering user-friendly, interactive maps.
You can proactively deliver the trustworthy information your community wants and needs by utilizing data integration via a leading mapping platform. By doing this, communication barriers between the public and your office are removed.
An open data portal allows you to:
- Update on local amenities, services, news, and events
- Use user-friendly maps to post information about properties, organizations, and communities on your website
- Directly interact with your audience to facilitate ongoing communication
- Create content that is beneficial to your community
Successful government websites provide incredibly helpful and pertinent content that makes them a community’s go-to source of information.
Analyze the types of information that your community needs from you. You can start looking there for content inspiration. An example would be a calendar of community events or meetings that is updated every day. Perhaps an FAQ that explains the community’s recent infrastructure upgrades. Additionally, make sure to update your content frequently. It is frustrating for website visitors that many government websites leave out-of-date content on their pages.
- Obey all federal regulations
You must ensure that your website complies with all applicable federal laws, rules, and regulations. These are subject to frequent and sudden changes. To make sure your organization isn’t unintentionally breaking current regulations, be sure to frequently review federal laws governing government websites.
- Add the ability to switch languages
Your constituents might struggle with the language that it supports, perhaps because they are not native speakers. Successful government websites should offer language-switching options. This is a straightforward functionality that can be utilized to represent almost any language in the world or multiple languages if necessary.
The three pillars of an enhanced government website design
There are 3 fundamental pillars that will support your long-term planning and should be taken into account before you embark on your journey:
Inform your team: For everyone to be on the same page and coordinate efforts, including content creators, site administrators, and web developers, all department members need to be aware of the rules and best practices that are relevant to your business. Your team can address problems quickly and prevent squandering time and money by understanding how roles and practices are affected by optimization and accessibility standards.
Get the appropriate tools: Do you know what is preventing your website from being compliant with rules? Or what issues you must address on your website to maximize public participation? There are numerous tools for website optimization that can not only automate website performance audits but also rank the problems that are slowing down your website.
Develop procedures: Your team can approach site improvement systematically with the help of clearly defined processes.
How do you arrive at best practices for Government website design?
If you want a better user experience on your government website, there’s a simple solution, plan ahead of time. Good designers understand that changing something after it has been built is much more difficult than changing it before. So, if you’re in the early stages of designing or redesigning your website, here are some low-cost steps you can take to ensure your users feel satisfied.
- Define user groups precisely
Despite what others may have told you, your target audience is not the amorphous public, federal employees, or anything else. Rather, you most likely have 3-5 key target audiences that differ in at least one way: they are Subject Matter Experts, they are under the age of 30, or they almost never visit government websites. Create personas that represent your user groups based on your research.
- Be goal-oriented
It’s a priority for them, and hopefully, it is for you as well. So rank your site’s features and content to determine what is most important to visitors. Then make sure they can easily find it on your site via navigation and search.
- Survey duration
To collect information, government agencies can use a variety of excellent survey tools (there are a few survey products in this list of services with federal-compatible Terms of Service). Why not learn more about your target audience by conducting well-designed surveys that probe people’s needs? Many survey tools are available for free.
- Understand your metrics
If you’re restarting a site, you’ll have all of the previous traffic reports. Or maybe you want to see what Google search terms people are using. Take a look at whatever it is and try to find some patterns of user behavior within your key metrics.
- User metrics
Talking to your users is the simplest way to learn about them. Schedule interviews with users to discuss their goals, desires, likes, and dislikes. If you’re doing a few, you can create fields in Google Forms or another tool and then fill them in as you conduct interviews. You can plan them for an hour, 30 minutes, or even 10 minutes; any time is better than none.
- Maintain focus on the end goal
You have a website or a digital product because it is a tool that will help you further the mission of your organization. As a result, ensure that you understand your organization’s goals and that you can align your new product with these goals. It will keep you on track and get you the great results you want from your site.
The best of the digital world can be showcased on websites. It becomes even more crucial to have a fantastic government website when the world is moving toward a better future. Using this step-by-step process to develop a better government website, organizations can effectively use personnel and financial resources to provide essential government services, engage citizens, and increase user satisfaction.
The Government Design Principles (GDP) play a major role in project outcomes. The GDP was created in response to the need to guide a brand identity for a large number of agile teams working on consolidating the UAE Government Digital Services. Digital projects of any size face challenges, such as overspending and technical difficulties, to name a few.