Community Websites are the Front Door to Civic Experience. How Welcoming is Yours?

Written by Jessica Marabella

Four tips for creating an engaging website that WOWs your residents.

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When someone searches for your municipality on Google, the first result is usually your website, followed by a Wikipedia entry. Your website is the digital front door to your local government. To create a positive civic experience, you must create a website that is both welcoming and accurately represents your community. User interactions should be easy, empowering, and effective. If you’re thinking about redesigning your local government website, consider the tips below to improve your residents’ digital civic experience.

 

Highlight Your Community’s Brand and Best Features

Use your brand to determine the aesthetics of your website. Utilizing the same seal or logo that your community sees at city hall establishes credibility. Create a cohesive look and feel by selecting colors that complement your logo or seal for design elements like banners and buttons. Images are a great way to bring your website to life and showcase your community’s best features.

 

Dynamic Content

Vides, photos, photo galleries, and social media integration are all examples of dynamic content that will make your website more engaging and reflect all your community has to offer. Consider using a rotating image widget on your home screen and select photos of scenic areas around your community. Create dynamic and engaging content by adding photos to your web pages like headshots, local parks, and events. Update the hero image or carousel on your homepage seasonally to keep the content fresh and relevant. For example, in the Fall, choose an image from your local pumpkin fest. In the winter, replace it with a photo of kids sledding at your local park. In the spring, choose a color photo of flowers in bloom, and in the summer, remind people your annual carnival is coming up with photos from last year’s activities.

 

Intuitive Navigation and Searchability

Organize your web pages with the user in mind. Content should be developed with a “three-clicks or fewer” philosophy. When users can find the answers they’re looking for quickly and efficiently, it reduces calls into city hall. Having robust search functionality is a necessity to improve your community’s civic experience. Accurate on-site search capabilities filter content based on local codes of ordinance, public meetings, online fillable forms, or webpage content. 

 

Community Self-Service 

Accepting permit applications or utility payments can take precious time out of your already busy day. Pay portals, online fillable forms, chatbots, and other features are helpful ways to promote self-service. Optimizing your website with citizen self-service in mind reduces visits into city hall and encourages your community to do business with their local government online.

 

If these tips above inspired you to look at your community’s digital front door, download our local government redesign toolkit. It offers everything you need for a successful redesign, including a budget, project timeline, and security considerations.