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Government Websites: A Vital Community Asset

Government websites serve as a one-stop shop for residents, but due to their complex nature, they often are challenging for residents to navigate in their search for information on the site.

Residents turn to their city, county or state’s website for information on codes, policies, street projects, events, permits and bill payments. The result is a website with an abundance of content in a variety of formats buried in multiple layers of sublinks.

Government websites are vital in a community, serving as the go-to place for information in emergencies and when residents want to participate in the democratic process. It’s often the place where residents interact with their government for the first time. Our government clients turn to us for help because they want all residents to be able to access information quickly and easily.

The Problem

Government websites aren’t designed like a standard website with a title, description and body.

Unlike a business website, government sites are a place residents visit with an intent purpose. A government website is like visiting a library for information compared to a store’s website where visitors stay, browse and shop for a while.

They include different formats and styles and typically have several external sublinks such as a utility website for the community’s businesses and residents. All of the different assets mean information is often buried in submenus and not accessible by residents.

Governments typically use a content management system for their website content, and while it’s easy to use, they can prevent the entity from personalizing the website to fit the community’s needs.

A Reactive Approach

Governments are often in reactive, not proactive, mode when they reach out to us.

Government employees have likely been receiving complaints from residents that they can’t find the items they need on the website. If they’re partnering with us to create a better search solution as part of a website redesign, that redesign is likely occurring in response to resident complaints.

We understand that large and small governments can face different challenges when it comes to their website. A small city’s top priority may be to simply have a functioning website search using templates while a large city is looking for a lot of infrastructure to meet the needs of many city departments. Small cities sometimes have limited budgets for their website and a larger city has a larger budget, but often has more website needs.

Cludo’s Proactive Solution

We know from our experience with government clients across multiple countries and continents that it’s sometimes not a straightforward process, and there can be many voices giving input about the website. We partner with each of our government clients to walk with them through the lifecycle of the project, no matter how long it will take.

Our first step is to understand our government clients’ most pressing concerns and their pie-in-the-sky dreams. We spend time on the client’s current website to understand how it functions and what information is already available. We create a phased solution that incorporates our clients’ needs and wants, timeline and budget.

Our solution can go beyond helping a client improve the search results list. We can create categorized search results so a resident can easily find meetings or government officials’ information.

We also understand that our government clients don’t have a lot of room in the budget for maintenance and upkeep. Our solution is designed to be hands off and automated.

Our search solution is tailored to each government client we serve. One client’s current search was bringing up 46,000 results for “tree lighting” without any ability to sort by date. We created a search solution for the client where residents can filter the search results by date or by the most recent result.

What Does Success Look Like?

To us, success for a government client means we can answer “yes” to one question: Is the client happy?

Our government clients can test the search themselves throughout the process to ensure residents can find different information and services. Government clients can also use their search analytics to understand how residents are using their website and how residents can be better served. The finished product should ensure that the correct information is elevated in the search result and the government website truly becomes a one-stop shop for their residents.

If your government website is in need of a better search, talk to one of our search experts today!