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The Importance of Having a Functional Government Website

What’s the first connection you have with citizens? It may be an in-person meeting or a social post, but it’s more likely that the very first time citizens engage with your organization is by visiting your website.

Your organization’s website can be one of the most essential tools for meeting the needs of your citizens, and so optimizing it around the citizen experience is crucial.

Here are a few suggestions to consider when reviewing your website strategy:

Make Information Easy to Find

For the average user, the amount of time spent on any new website is minimal – in fact, one estimate clocks in the average website visit to 15 seconds or less. This is why it’s important to make valuable information as easy to find as possible.

Utilizing your organization’s IT professionals may be valuable to re-think the structure, layout, and ease-of-use of your organization’s website. It may also be helpful to display easy-to-find links to meeting and agenda information, such as the agenda itself, archived videos and minutes from past meetings, and live streams.

Add a Feedback Gathering Tool

Your government website can also be used for direct civic engagement regarding citizens’ experiences or even community issues. Easily and efficiently capturing feedback will only help as your consider updating your engagement strategies – everything from enhancing the user experience to adding relevant topics to meeting agendas.

Many of these platforms also allow officials to speak directly with their constituents about their most pressing demands. This helps create trust between local government and the citizens they serve, because it shows residents that government leaders are listening closely and can help provide solutions for bolstering services and provisioning across the community.

Better Connect in Emergency Situations

In many areas of the country, an emergency can strike at a moment’s notice. Whether a fire rages across California or a hurricane hits the East Coast, a government’s website must be ready with critical information.

American City & County noted that communication through a government website is the first line of defense in emergency situations, and that it can help promote calm and control for residents. This will help get more people to safety and direct emergency services personnel to the areas that require the most help.

By creating a functional website with easy navigation, officials can better connect with their constituents and ensure that the public stays well-informed at all times. You might also consider adding a rotator so that when critical information comes up, you are ready to add information so citizens see it easily on their first visit.

While website is the top platform for communicating with citizens, Granicus’ 2017 Digital Communications Trends report has more information on how government organizations are connecting with the public. Download the report to learn more.