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Tips on Improving Government Websites

On Tuesday, the White House held a Q & A about Improving Federal Websites. BUT, there are takeaways and ideas that local governments and state agencies can gain from this discussion (see below the video).

According to the White House Blog:

“For the first time, the federal government has published the list of all .gov domains managed by federal executive branch agencies– all 1759 of them!

Before today, no one – except for the few folks who manage the .gov registry – has had a clear picture of what our federal web space looks like. Now, anyone can see how many different domains and websites agencies manage, what topics they cover, which sites may duplicate or overlap with others, and which sites are no longer being actively maintained. As part of President Obama’s Executive Order on Customer Service and Campaign to Cut Waste, we can identify and consolidate unnecessary websites, saving money and providing better service to the American public.” (source: from the blog post, “Campaign to Cut Waste: .gov Effort to Improve Federal Websites” by Sheila Campbell)

“White House Director of Digital Strategy Macon Phillips, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and Director of the GSA’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government Sheila Campbell discuss ways to improve the online experience with Federal websites and the campaign to reduce the number of excess and duplicative government websites.”

Some ideas and takeaways for local governments to consider:

  • Be prepared for making your site mobile-ready
  • Include search capability for the site (have a search-bar).
  • Check website analytics… don’t pour money into pages that don’t get visits.
  • Multiple domain names from one government mean that you’re competing with yourself for search engine results.
  • Make sure that top tasks are featured prominently on the homepage.
  • Find (and delete) duplicated content.
  • Collaborate with content creators (those who will be contributing to the government website).
  • HowTo.gov shares best practices with federal, state, and local web managers.

According to their website, “HowTo.gov is for anyone who manages or supports (directly or indirectly) a government customer service channel. This includes anyone who manages a government website or call center; communicates with the public via social media; manages or supports their agency’s IT operations; writes or edits content for web or print publication; or manages customer service operations in any program area.”

Also, “HowTo.gov is a website to help government workers deliver a better customer experience to citizens. It’s about sharing new ideas, common challenges, lessons learned, and successes across government. HowTo.gov can help you work smarter, whether you’re on the “front lines” of government customer service; you manage a customer service channel; or you support customers through new media, open government, cloud computing, communications, innovation, or in some other way. HowTo.gov provides the tools and ideas you need to effectively serve, engage, and support your customers, no matter how they choose to interact with you.”

They also offer “practices, training, and guidance on:

  • Strategic planning and coordinating customer service channels;
  • Federal web requirements and policies;
  • Cloud computing, apps, data and web infrastructure tools;
  • Online citizen engagement through social media and open government;
  • Web content management, usability, and design; and
  • Contact center services.”

Have any other ideas? Share them in the comments below!

A similar version of this was originally posted at the IT company that I work for’s product blog (Disclosure: the product deals w/ transparency, gov’t, & technology and our company works with government in multiple ways to help them with gov 2.0 and related technologies)

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