EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Dec. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- When you've worked with local government IT and communications leaders every day for more than 20 years, it doesn't take a crystal ball to predict the major trends that will impact local government in 2017. Vision, the company dedicated to empowering local government leaders to serve, inform and engage their communities, today issued its list of the Top 5 trends for 2017 along with tips for local leaders charged with meeting growing citizen expectations.
1. User Experience Will Matter More Than Ever
Accenture's 2016 Public Service Pulse Survey found that 85 percent of U.S. citizens expect government digital services to be the same or higher quality as those of commercial organizations – up 12 percent from 2014. Yet, the most significant obstacle to using digital services from government is "poor website organization." What can local leaders do?
- Explore low-cost ways to analyze usability, like Google Analytics and user surveys.
- Continually refine your website's navigation and homepage based on web analytics and user feedback.
- Organize your website to reflect the needs of residents, rather than the internal structure of government.
2. Content Strategy is Key to Helping Residents Perform Tasks Online
In the same Public Service Pulse Survey, 41 percent of respondents cited "poorly organized or dense information" as a top obstacle to using digital government services. Overcoming this challenge requires an effective content strategy focused on clear, succinct and actionable information. How can local leaders ensure success?
- Review website analytics and remove infrequently accessed pages.
- Train all content contributors to write effectively for the web.
- Eliminate legalese and present information in plain language that can easily be understood.
3. Web Accessibility Standards are on the Horizon
New rules on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance for websites will be issued in 2018. How can local leaders prepare?
- Stay ahead of the curve by making website accessibility compliance a strategic imperative.
- Update your staff on accessibility guidelines and ensure that they are trained to write content that is accessible to people with various disabilities.
- Develop an accessibility policy and publish it on your website.
4. Community Engagement will Takeoff
Engagement takes many forms -- voice-to-voice, face-to-face, mobile and social. How can local leaders make sure that messages are consistent across all platforms?
- Building community engagement takes time; so begin to regularly ask residents for opinions on small, everyday issues.
- Nurture the habit of engagement by sharing how resident feedback impacts decisions.
- Explore new engagement methods, like blogging and video, to help tell stories better.
5. Cybersecurity Concerns will Skyrocket
Despite highly publicized national attacks in 2016, state and local governments are especially vulnerable to cyber attacks and other security breaches. Accenture's 2016 Cybersecurity Report says government organizations rank at the bottom of all industries in terms of security. How can you turn this around?
- Stay current on the potential risks and threats.
- Make sure you have policies covering data breach notification, disaster recovery, IT service continuity, remote access, employee departure and acceptable use.
- Perform a cybersecurity self-assessment audit to make sure critical systems are protected from attacks with an effective solution.
- Review your disaster recovery plans and make sure key vendors are prepared as well.
"The relationship between citizens and government is evolving," said Ashley Fruechting, Vision's senior director of marketing. "If there's one thing we learned during the 2016 election cycle, it's that citizens want to be heard. The opportunity to increase satisfaction, build trust and foster engagement on the local level is greater than ever. It all begins with a local government website that provides useful, meaningful and accurate information about matters of shared interest and concerns in the community."
For more information about Vision's transformative technology, or to request a free website review and consultation, please call 888-263-8847 or visit info.visioninternet.com/free-consultation.
Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., Vision is a national leader in government website design, development and hosting with more than 700 government, non-profit and education clients in U.S. and Canadian communities with populations that range from less than 1,000 residents to more than 5 million. For more than 20 years, Vision has created cost-effective solutions that increase government efficiency, build transparency and promote interactive communications with citizens. The company's powerful, easy-to-use subscription-based content management system, visionLive™, keeps local government websites relevant and effective; and the new visionPulse™ community engagement platform enables local governments to gather feedback on important issues. In 2016, Vision was named to Government Technology magazine's GovTech 100, a listing of leading companies developing innovative or disruptive offerings to improve or transform government. The company also was named a top 10 company serving local government by Engaging Local Government Leaders in its 2016 ELGL Choice Awards.