Six Must-Haves for Every Citizen-Focused Website

Six Must-Haves for Every Citizen-Focused Website
CivicLive Blog - Six Must-Haves for Every Citizen-Focused Website

If you were to look at every award-winning government website, you would find that, despite their unique qualities, they all have a few features in common. While there's no formula for creating the perfect government website, there are definitely ways to ensure your city creates a site focused on its citizens and their needs.



1. Prioritize Accessibility

An accessible website is a legal requirement for all governments. It's also a must-have for any user-centric website. A site designed with accessibility in mind includes visuals accompanied by detailed captions, (including videos with closed-captioning) and providing transcripts of recordings.


Accessibility also includes transparency—meaning all content shared on your site is clear, concise and uses language that is easy to understand.

2. Think Usability

Usability requires you to focus on the "hows" of your site—how clean, how simple, how easy is the user experience? A good website will be equipped with a good information architecture (IA), one that understands its users' needs. A strong IA leads to better navigation, meaning users are able to get from point A to point B in less than three clicks.


The easier it is for your audience to navigate your site and find the answers they're after, the better your sites usability is.

3. Build Responsive Design

Ten years ago, you could forgo a responsive website and still meet your audiences' needs. But, in 2017, more and more people are accessing the internet using more than just a traditional desktop computer. A website designed with this in mind is one that allows users to access it via any mobile device (mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.); making it easier for busy, on the go residents to better engage with your government.

4. Include Robust Search

As the internet and websites evolve, so do the ways users interact with them. We're seeing more users choosing to navigate sites using their search bar. These users are not interested in clicking on links to get to where they want to go. Instead, they prefer the direct action a search bar provides.


These smart searches require a deep understanding of user behavior and incredibly detailed use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) methods. A website equipped with strong search capabilities is one that demonstrates a strong value of its users' time.

5. Create Clear, Concise Content

Good web design can do wonders in helping to navigate site visitors to the information they are looking for. But once they're on the right webpage, can those visitors understand the information you've provided? If you have to read twice and pause to understand what's written on the page, it might be time for a refresher on Plain Writing. When writing for your website, think about your users and what is most important to them. Write it down in short, concise, action-oriented (and jargon-free) sentences. Tell your readers exactly what they need to know without any fluff.

6. Keep a Consistent, Modern Look

You website is the fastest and simplest way to engage with your citizens. It's also the best way to inform your audience about your goals. Even though each individual page on your site will relay different information, it's important every page remains consistent through their look and general outline. Develop a brand book or outline to help maintain consistency across all departments.


Stick to a clean, flat design—it's minimalist in nature and places an emphasis on usability. Use icons that can easily convey messages or a page's use. Just because the design is modest doesn't mean it can't be interactive as well as functional.

Conclusion

A citizen-focused website is one that truly understands and satisfies its citizens' needs. The more dynamic and modernized your website becomes, the easier it is to foster two-way communication between your government and your citizens. Websites for towns, cities and counties have unique requirements that are best understood by a government-focused provider like CivicLive. We have designed our website solution to meet government requirements. We can help bridge the gap between what you know and what you need.

Contact Us Today for a free consultation on building and implementing a citizen-focused website.

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