True Citizen Engagement Goes Beyond a Website’s User Interface


While it’s essential to have a website that is user-friendly – optimized for all devices, easily navigable, etc. – it’s equally important to make sure that the backend technologies that drive that site are working to deliver a fast and fluid performance. In short, good digital citizen engagement combines reliability, performance and usability to help governments and citizens connect.

Assuming you’ve already developed a streamlined user interface (UI), it’s time to start centering your attention on the behind-the-scenes processes that will help you build and maintain that connection. Here are three strategies to help you achieve this ultimate ideal of form and function.

Closely monitor application performance

Slow or unresponsive applications can undermine federal, state and local government’s efforts to use online solutions to connect with citizens. What’s the incentive for constituents to use their government’s digital platform if a site is slow and doesn’t easily or quickly lead to information that answers their questions? They might as well pick up the phone or – shudder – pay a visit to their local office.

Monitoring application performance is imperative to ensure that your digital platforms remain a go-to resource for citizens. Use application monitoring processes and solutions to track and analyze performance and troubleshoot any potential issues. The data you collect can help you identify the causes of problems, allowing you to address them quickly and, ideally, with minimal impact to site performance.

Log and manage events

The feds might get most of the attention, but security is just as important – perhaps even more so – in the state and local government space. In fact, there’s evidence that state and local governments are more susceptible to cyberattacks than small and medium sized businesses.

As such, you need to take care to plug any potential holes, and part of that effort entails logging and managing events. Events can range from the highly innocuous, such as a new user signing up to receive emails about local information, to potential intrusions or malware designed to collect personal information or compromise website performance.

Whatever the case, put steps in place to monitor any types of website events and requests, from the innocent to the suspicious. This will help you identify, track, and respond to potential incidents before they do lasting damage. You can monitor and manage unauthorized users, failed login attempts, and other events, and even mitigate internal threats by changing user privileges, blocking USB devices and more.

Test site performance

This is where the true intersection of form and function lies. Once application monitoring and log and event management processes are in place, continue to test your website’s performance to ensure that it delivers an optimal and user-friendly experience.

The goal is to identify any slow web services that may be impacting that experience. Don’t trust your own eyes for this procedure. Instead, use web performance monitoring solutions to identify infrastructure issues and various site elements that could be causing latency issues.

Your site should be tested from multiple devices, locations and browsers in order to provide your users with a fast and reliable experience. These tests should be done proactively and on a regular basis to ensure a consistently optimal performance that delivers on the promise of true citizen engagement.

Remember that as you strive to achieve that promise, it’s important to invest in the appropriate backend solutions and processes to power your efforts. They’re just as important as the surface details because without them, you run the risk of having your site be just another pretty face that citizens may find wanting.

Joe Kim is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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