SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Ring the bell. That's tip #1 from the online government innovators at Vision Internet to local government agencies launching new and improved websites.
After helping thousands of municipal and county leaders across North America develop new local government websites, Vision Internet today released a Website Launch Toolkit packed with tips and best practices for generating buzz, engaging citizens and stimulating usage of online government services. The Toolkit is available now as a free download at http://www.visioninternet.com/websitelaunchtoolkit.
"A municipal website that integrates all the latest features and functions has the power to bring a community together and better the lives of citizens," said Ashley Fruechting, Vision Internet's senior director of strategic initiatives. "Proactive launch communications are as essential to a website makeover as the development process itself. This means ringing the bell like a town crier to let citizens know that key information and services are accessible online, anywhere, anytime and on any device."
Get the Word Out
Promoting a new website is key to making it the go-to source for residents, visitors and local businesses. Ideally, citizens already have been engaged in the planning and development stages; but whether or not that's the case, the communications strategy for a new site launch should include email notifications, social media sharing, video tutorials, face-to-face communications and traditional media outreach.
The City of San Angelo, Texas emailed staff, alerted local media and leveraged social media platforms to herald the arrival of its new website earlier this year. The week prior to launch, the City posted a screenshot of the new homepage on its Facebook page with the caption "Coming Soon!" to create buzz among followers about the new look and features of the site. The City even ran a small advertising campaign using the tagline: cosatx.us: Informative. Interactive. Instantaneous.
"Whatever way we could think of to get the word out, we did… because it was important," said San Angelo Public Information Officer Anthony Wilson.
Last year in New York, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano announced the launch of his city's rebranded website in a YouTube video. In it, he gave an overview of the site's new user-friendly and interactive features like responsive design, live video streaming and customized e-notifications.
Actively seeking feedback on your new website from residents engages the community and builds local pride and ownership in the site. In addition to validating the value and worth of the new site to government administration and leadership, feedback identifies areas for improvement, which will help the site become even better and more useful. Making it easy for residents to provide ongoing feedback on a website provides ideas for enhancement well into the future.
Monterey County, California created a "New Website Survey" homepage button that makes it easy for visitors to access a 10-question survey covering the user experience with the new site. Capturing this data helps to determine what users like and do not like about a new site, as well as how easy it is to navigate.
In Santa Clara, California, the City hosted four face-to-face community involvement sessions to help residents become familiar with the new site and solicit feedback.
Continue to Improve
Great websites never stop evolving. Keeping a new website fresh and relevant requires a mindset of continuous improvement that incorporates ongoing feedback from users as well as data derived from website analytics.
Google Analytics provides valuable insight into what information website audiences are looking for and how they are accessing the site. This knowledge allows administrators to make meaningful modifications to their sites as community needs change.
The Township of Franklin, New Jersey signals its focus on continuous improvement with a hot button in the center of its homepage that asks: "How are we doing?" Clicking on the link takes users to a Customer Service Feedback Form for easy online submission.
When North Port, Florida re-launched its website, the communications team ran an "Important Update" banner across the top of the homepage, welcoming people to the new site and encouraging them to share thoughts and suggestions to make it better.
"Websites and their content are constantly evolving, and that's the way it should be," said Erin Bryce, North Port community outreach manager. "The world isn't stagnant, and our website needs to be responsive to the changing needs of our customers."
For more information about Vision Internet's transformative government website technology, call 888-263-8847 or visit visioninternet.com/inforequest.
About Vision Internet
Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., Vision Internet is a leader in website design, development, hosting and software solutions for government agencies. Over the last 20 years, the company has shaped the evolution of government websites and helped more than 600 organizations serve, represent and delight citizens with beautiful and easy-to-use web-based portals and software tools that increase efficiency and transparency. The company's websites have been recognized with nearly 300 awards. For more information visit www.visioninternet.com.
SOURCE Vision Internet