Nine Steps for Superior Citizen Engagement

Nine Steps for Superior Citizen Engagement
Posted on 07/14/2016
CivicLive Blog - Nine Steps for Superior Citizen Engagement

Do you ever wonder how you could get more value out of your government website? Or whether you can use an eGovernment solution to fulfill your mandate more effectively?

Here at CivicLive we've outlined nine steps that use established and emerging eGovernment technologies to build online engagement that empowers citizens and helps government staff do their jobs.

1. Move More Services Online

Making more municipal service requests available online is a fantastic way to boost engagement. The more that services are placed online, the greater the opportunity to engage citizens on topics that require feedback. Making your website the hub for government services will bring more traffic.

2. Make Your Website Accessible on the Go

Convenience is key when delivering eGovernment services and resources to citizens. This means that your next eGovernment web solution should be fully mobile-optimized to enable citizens to submit service requests and receive important updates directly through their smartphones and other mobile devices.

3. Create Personalized Experiences for Citizens

Personal Portals allow citizens to see an overview of the web content they want to see the most, track service requests they've made, and view updates from the discussion forums and groups they are actively contributing to. Your government staff can also use these portals to share targeted information that you want your citizens to see quickly. When it's easier for citizens to see and use the information they want, you can better facilitate meaningful dialogue and engagement between your citizens and your government.

4. Get Actionable Data with Effective Polling & Vote-Casting

Online polls and voting capabilities can provide a whole new breadth of online citizen engagement opportunities that can be used to impact – or at least help evaluate – government decisions, processes and services. Effective Polling means replacing general polls with topic-specific, granular polls and surveys where feedback is easily synthesized in to relevant data for that topic. Using polls in this manner is a simple practice for government staff to implement, and an equally simple opportunity for citizens to contribute in a meaningful way.

5. Encourage Focused Discussions in Social Groups

While open forums – in-person or web-based – can foster a sense of community and purpose, they can also be disorganized, difficult to manage, and run the risk of accomplishing much less than was originally intended. If your staff build collaboration groups and focused discussion threads, you will find the results more impressive. Just like with granular polls and surveys, focused discussions and collaboration groups will facilitate the collection of recorded citizen feedback and data in contexts where it is most relevant and useful for your staff.

6. Avoid Generic Feedback Forms

While open feedback forms may offer a quick, easy fix for building citizen ‘engagement’ – you may find that what you end up with is citizens who find a fast, easy way to express unfocused discontent with any aspect of your government and/or its services. Since that type of non-actionable feedback doesn’t typically count as citizen engagement – at least not engagement that your staff can use effectively – building the generic feedback forms that facilitate it may be worth avoiding.

7. Redesign to Meet Your Audience's Needs

Redesigning a municipal government website’s user experience for the purpose of building citizen engagement is a complex task. But, the process involves maintaining a core focus: design your website with your citizens’ needs in mind, prioritized over your team's own preferences.

8. Separate News & Event Content by Audience Types

By separating News stories and Events in to audience-specific categories, you can build online communities around that information. Not all news and events appeal to your entire website’s user base much in the same way that they don’t all appeal to your entire community. If your web content management team categorizes content types for specific target audience groups, your government staff can use these categories and their audiences as an important first step in leading more in-depth online collaboration.

9. Conduct Ongoing Usability Testing and Track Results

Testing citizen engagement-building solutions can provide valuable insights into what gets citizens involved, and help gauge the value of their involvement. Usability testing will ensure that your website management team are making educated decisions on which strategies yield the type of citizen engagement your government staff need to help them serve your community.

Find out how CivicLive can help your government achieve these nine steps and more to create superior citizen engagement with our 21st century citizen communication and engagement solutions!

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