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How many times last month did you receive an afterhours call from your County Executive requesting an update to your civic website? How many emails did you receive, before you even reached your desk, noted with an urgent status and all caps in the subject line? How many weather alerts needed to be sent out on weekends? Now think about the amount of stress you felt staying late at the office to update communications, going in to your office on the weekend to send out notices, or having to explain to leaders in your administration why a website news article just couldn’t be published until you were back at your desk.
How long does it take you to update a paragraph of text on your municipal website using your current local government content management system (CMS)? Ten minutes? An hour or two depending on whether the system is being glitchy? Two days because you have to outsource it to a third-party web programmer with HTML skills? If so, it sounds like you need a new CMS.
You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, and you wouldn’t buy a house without a walk through. When it comes to making an in investment in a content management system (CMS), using taxpayer dollars, the same amount of consideration should be made. Before purchasing a local government content management system (CMS), take the time to view a demonstration of the system–-both the administrative interface and the external user interface. Here are six reasons why local governments should view a demo before selecting a new government website design partner.
Local government human resource teams across the country are faced with the same challenge: how to attract quality talent in today’s digital-first society. In order to remain relevant in the job market and in particular, attract millennial job seekers, public sector human resource managers are enhancing their talent search strategies to ensure they are reaching qualified talent using the most appropriate channels. To optimize your talent acquisition model and recruit the most qualified pool of applicants possible, make sure your strategy leverages the power of social media, and is optimized for mobile.
As a Public Information Officer (PIO), your job is to manage the exchange of information from your administration to your citizens. In today’s digital first society, that means a significant portion of your job is centered around managing your local government website. For some PIOs, updating their existing, outdated website is an inefficient, challenging process. If you are currently responsible for the maintenance of a civic website that is difficult to manage, reflects outdated content, is not mobile responsive, and that reflects an outdated layout and design, you may be advocating for a website re-design.
You can’t put the cart before the horse, and you can’t have a good municipal webswithout processes built around a strong vision for your staff.
A lot of local leaders and city managers are surprised to hear this, but throughout my career, it’s proven true every time. First, you must establish your identity, purpose, and goals. Then, you must get everyone on board. Only then can you start designing your website.
When Snohomish County decided to redesign its website in 2013, change was long overdue.
“We were all shocked and amazed that we did not upgrade, redesign, or do virtually anything to the site for 10 years,” said Dave Stroble, information services project manager.
For Stroble, 10 years seemed like the equivalent of two centuries in Internet years. Not only was the site behind the times with its visual presentation, but it also failed to meet modern expectations of accessibility. Thirty percent of the county’s web traffic was coming from mobile, but its site had no mobile component to meet this demand.
The Snohomish County story is hardly a unique one. Many municipal websites fail to meet the needs of their citizens. Redesigns just aren’t a priority, and when they do happen, they don’t always address the true usability problems head-on.
There’s no denying that the Internet has changed the way we communicate forever. Most people would rather visit your website than the local city hall. That being said, you need to see your website for what it is: the face of your local government. If you don’t, you’re going to miss the opportunity to connect with the majority of your citizens.
Local government leaders in the state of Vermont have a new law to follow as of July 1, 2014.
In developing a tip sheet to help our Vermont clients understand the requirements, we realized that many other states have very similar statutes to the Open Meeting Law. In the interest of government transparency, a common requirement of these laws is use of your local government website to keep citizens informed. Are you complying?