We know what you’re thinking: you’ve been updating your municipal website for years and already have processes and habits in place that guide your decisions while updating pages and adding new content. Think you know all the latest best practices for building engaging website content? Think again. Web standards are constantly changing (reminder: ADA Section 508 Refresh) as new technology emerges and user expectations change—and by change, we mean citizen expectations for meaningful, personally relevant self-service digital interactions have never been higher.
To guide your website administrators in their ongoing efforts to produce new website content that is engaging and relevant, start by developing a list of guiding principles that define what material you should include within your local government website—and what to communicate elsewhere.
The following are characteristics of valuable website content:
- An automated process. Anything that allows the user to complete a task online, such as pay a bill, apply for a permit or fill out a form. Click here for ten ways to save time with forms integrated into your municipal website.
- Process information. For example, items to bring to a permit hearing, or rules for speaking at a council meeting.
- Maps or other visual aids. Such elements should assist the user in understanding provided municipal services. For example, bus routes and schedules, snow plow routes, trash pickup routes, or flood zone maps.
- Office contact information and hours.
- Documents. Particularly valuable are materials a citizen would want to download rather than picking up at your office. For example, the latest seasonal recreation catalog, or a phone list.
The following are characteristics of content that you should store elsewhere:
- Past agendas that are not legally required to be accessible.
- Mission statements.
- Exhaustive lists of departmental duties that are not public-facing.
- Out-of-date plans or drawings. If a project is complete, remove its plans.
- Detailed documentation. Pages of text should appear in books, not on web pages.
If you’re realizing that your website needs more of an overhaul then an update, it’s time to plan a strategic website redesign with a positive ROI. Click below to download our Local Government Website Redesign Toolkit. It includes everything you need for a successful website redesign from security considerations to budget guidelines to an implementation timeline.