There were more than 3 billion visits to federal government websites in the past 90 days. Whether it’s the IRS or U.S. Postal Service, government agencies provide Americans with public services on their desktops and mobile devices. Then there are public agencies at the state and local levels, which allow users to carry out tasks like paying parking tickets and applying for business licenses. The problem is, many of these websites are difficult to use. Some sites aren’t optimized for mobile. Others include outdated or incorrect information. Here’s how to optimize a website for public services.
1. Optimize for Mobile
Research shows that people are more likely to use mobile websites to access certain public services. Still, many government sites at the federal, state, and local levels aren’t optimized for smartphones and tablets, which increases churn rates — the number of people who hit the “back” button on their mobile browsers.”Mobile visitors to a city website were more than twice as likely to seek information about parks and recreation than desktop users, at 32 percent and 15 percent, respectively,” says Granicus, who provide technology for various government organizations.Recently, the number of mobile users overtook desktop users for the first time. This is why it’s crucial that government agencies optimize their websites for mobile devices.
2. Use Video
By next year, video content will make up 80 percent of all global internet consumption. However, some government agencies still rely on text to inform the public about services. These agencies need to incorporate video into their website design if they want to engage users.Video tutorials about public services — how to pay a parking fine, for example — prove effective. The City of New York, for example, posts how-to video guides on its website, and other city governments do the same.
Why are videos so effective? Research shows that 80 percent of people remember what they see, while just 20 percent recall what they read. Moreover, 80 percent will watch a video online, while only 20 percent will read text on a page.
Still not incorporated video into your website? Now’s a good a time as any.
3. Use UX Design
Usability is crucial when it comes to government agency websites. People who have a positive experience on a website are more likely to remember important information about public services, such as waste collection, healthcare, education, and more. White space — the amount of space between text and images on a website page — can increase readability and usability on a government website. In fact, one study suggests that the proper use of space between paragraphs of text can boost comprehension by as much as 20 percent. Other examples of good UX design include lots of menus, which allow users to navigate a website and access the information they need. The Government of California’s website is a good example of this. The main menu sits at the top of the page, with drop-down sub-menus that improve navigation.
Government websites include information about public services that impact citizens, so using flashy graphics and GIFs are probably not the best idea. However, incorporating video, using UX design features like white space and navigation menus, and optimizing pages for mobile can make public information easier to understand.