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THE ROAD FORGOTTEN: What's the roadmap for your website?

THE ROAD FORGOTTEN: What's the roadmap for your website?



2013 GTC Conference presentation given by Texas.gov and City of Austin ...

2013 GTC Conference presentation given by Texas.gov and City of Austin
June 3, 2013

The technology we're all using today has dramatically changed over the last 10 years. Has your website? This presentation is a discussion of what's new in government websites. Topics for discussion include:

• The Portal is Dead— Go Search and Go Mobile!
• Dynamic Content and Communication— Really using social media and crowd sourcing
• End-User Focus— The new rules for building a site (analytics, market research, function over form)
• Geo Functionality— Information Near You?



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  • Just like a building, your website needs a good foundation. What happens when a building has a weak foundation? This 13-story building in China literally fell on its side in 2009 due to an inadequate foundation. For your website, the foundation is the information architecture and user experience. Even as a constant array of new technologies make websites flashier, more functional and easier to interact with, there is no substitute for a strong foundation. I’m going to discuss three ways to improve your site’s information architecture and user experience.
  • If you are building a site from scratch, or planning a major redesign, you should start with your site’s information architecture. A great way to begin is with a card sorting exercise. In 2010, Texas.gov refreshed its information architecture, and card-sorting played an important role in that process. Here’s how a card-sorting exercise goes. Start by listing out every major piece of content and functionality your site has. Obviously, for a large site, you won’t list every blog post, press release or article. Some pre-grouping may be necessary, but try to keep it to a minimum. Since card-sorting itself is a grouping exercise, any pre-grouping you do will lower the effectiveness of the card sort. Next, write a short description of each piece of content or functionality on an index card. When you are done, you will probably have a fairly sizable stack of index cards. Anything over 50, however, and you should go back and do a bit more pre-grouping. For the next step, you will need several participants, preferably at least some of whom are not designers or developers who regularly work on the site. In fact, it is best if you can get in a few actual users or potential users at this stage. Have the participants take turns grouping the index cards into whatever groups make sense to them. After each participant has finished sorting the cards, have them label each group with whatever label comes to mind. Make sure to carefully record each participant's grouping before moving on to the next. Once the exercise is over, you will have some great information to use in putting together your information architecture. Your designers will be able to analyze how participants chose to group your site’s content, and in combination with their experience, put together a strong information architecture foundation for your website. Best of all, this foundation is based on input from actual users, not just hunches from designers or managers.
  • The next tip concerns your site’s user experience. Even if you do not have the time or budget for a full redesign, a lot can be accomplished with a refresh of your site’s interface and navigation. One thing that Texas.gov has found very useful is a thorough competitive analysis. Every year, Texas.gov analyzes all 50 state portals, not so much to determine what content they are presenting, but to examine what methods they use to present it. The key to a good competitive analysis is to be thorough and objective. Here are some of the specific high-level features we use at Texas.gov when analyzing the other 49 portals: Expected Features- Does the portal include elements which are now commonly expected to be part of a state government website, like search, live help, a survey and social networking. How does the portal feature these elements?Unique Features- What elements does the portal offer that exceed basic expectations? For instance, geolocation or activity steams. How does the portal feature these elements?Layout and Navigation- How does the portal present its navigation scheme? Is the layout fixed-width or liquid?Design Patterns- What design patterns, like tabs, fat footers or big background images are utilized?Mobile Presentation- Are they using native apps? Responsive design? A dedicated mobile site? Are they device-sniffing? Do they present a limited feature-set and/or reduced content?Other Features - Any other elements, like color schemes, icons, alert banners, etc. that may be worth consideration. Each portal get’s a page in our document, including at least one screenshot. All the information I just listed is collected in an objective fashion and included on the page. Once the document is complete, the user experience team reserves a room and spends at least 4 hours, sometimes a whole day, pouring over it. The session is very free-form, with lots of great ideas popping up. We record everything and don’t start narrowing down ideas until later in the process.
  • The last tip I want to share with you today concerns analytics. Hopefully, you are all using analytics already. I’m sure I don’t have to extoll the virtues of analytics is general. Many people, however, seem to view analytics as a marketing tool. I’m not denying that analytics provides some amazing useful marketing info, but for me, analytics is primarily a user experience tool.
  • There are two major pieces of the Texas.gov user experience that came directly from our analytics. The first is our prominent search box. While preparing for our 2010 redesign, the Texas.gov UX team analyzed our google analytics account. We quickly noticed that the second most visited page on the site was the search results page. There was no doubt people wanted to use search on our site, but we were hiding it up in the corner. So we became one of the first state portals to move search front-and-center, a trend that continues to expand to more and more state portals every year.
  • The other major piece of user experience that came from our analytics are landing pages. Upon a deeper look at our analytics, it became obvious that the vast majority of our visitors were searching for just a few different topics. The user experience department and the Marketing department got together and decided to create a series of “landing” pages that would consolidate all of the links and services for each of these topics.  We picked driver services as the first of these landing pages, since it was by far the most searched topic. We created a landing page that consolidated all the services, agencies and links associated with driver services. It quickly became the third most visited page on our site. After the overwhelming success of the driver landing page, we launched several more landing pages covering other topics like Business and Public Records. These landing pages, along with the the prominent search box, have come to define the Texas.gov experience, making it much easier for citizens to find the information they are looking for. And it all came from a close examination of our analytics.
  • Throughout the redesign of Texas.gov, we made sure to use analytics as an input into our design process and the decisions we madeUse Your Analytics – At Texas.gov we rely heavily on web analytics tools to help us make justified, metric-driven decisions about our website. With our recent redesign, we asked ourselves:What devices are our visitors using? What content are they interested in (or not)? Are they quickly finding what they need? Using analytics, we knew what our top 5 services were, in terms of usage. So now, these services are featured prominently on the homepage. Received 75% of clicks in 2012 on the previous version of the Texas.gov websiteGrowth in Mobile UsageOur analytics data confirmed that our website was following the industry trend of growing mobile visitors. When Texas.gov launched in 2010, 3.4% of our users came from mobile devices. By the 2nd year, the number had grown to 8%, and when we embarked on our redesign, mobile accounted for around 10% of our users.This increase and projections from the industry led to our decision to apply Responsive Design patterns to the new site.Since launch in mid-April, mobile visits have increased 16%.
  • Another input into the design process is customer feedbackTexas.gov – Most visitors come to complete a transaction100+ hosted application that we design and maintainSurveys at end of applicationsWe evaluate, looks for trends and then adjust as necessaryExample: DLR Temporary License receipt was 3 pages long; now 1 page
  • At Texas.gov we also try to support user’s normal behavior.These days, the reality is that many of our users are active on social media So, it’s imperative to engage with them via that platform It’s an opportunity for direct conversations / interactions with your end users – this type of dialogue builds trust and hopefully an ongoing conversation that’s beneficial to both partiesTexas.gov is active on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,Pinterest, and Get SatisfactionHere are some examples of how we facilitate conversations with users (SPEAK TO EACH EXAMPLE)
  • Users will promote your brand, your information and your services if they’re worthwhile. At Texas.gov we help facilitate this promotion by making it easy for them to use a Share This feature.When a user completes a transaction, they are presented with a logout page and the opportunity to tell their own network about the service they just completed on Texas.gov.Here are just a few examples – vital record, nurse license, and driver licenseAlso, as you can see in the driver license example, we maintain the conversation with users by watching for these messages, taking the time to thank them for their business, and then also cross-promote other services that might apply
  • Thanks to Google, we are now a society that is comfortable searching for what we need. At Texas.gov, Search is one of the most important components of our website. And since around 25% of visitors to Texas.gov use Search, we help support that behavior by using the Google Site Search feature to promote our services or specific topics of interest or importance.We use analytics to uncover who searched and when? What they were searching for; what terms did they use, which categories did they search; where did they search and which pages did they find?Then we use Google site search to serve up info in a way users are familiar withWe set them up; they’re within our control on our site. All we provide is a title, description, URL and defined set of key words (anywhere from 5-10 depending on the service)Links to applications that we host are tagged so that we can measure how many transaction came from that link – test, measure, adjustActs like the paid promotions you see in a Google search (the highlighted box at top of search results)As you can see in this example here, a search for “driver license renewal” pulls up a promoted search in the gray box; below the gray box are the organic search results from Google
  • From: “Mobile is Eating the World” – Benedict Evans, Enders Analysis presentation at BEA, May 2013Tablets – 115MM units in 2012Smart phones – 700MM units in 2012All mobile phones – 1.7B units in 2012Smartphones and tablets – 1.25B in 2013 estimatedPredicting similar growth through 2017
  • ENHANCED GEOLOCATIONNew HTLML5 geolocation APIs significantly improve “Info Near You”, letting users consensually share their location. This allows Texas.gov to list local government information, such as driver license and vehicle registration offices, libraries, and parks. Geographic location information for these items is displayed relative to the user’s location via an embedded Google map.

THE ROAD FORGOTTEN: What's the roadmap for your website? THE ROAD FORGOTTEN: What's the roadmap for your website? Presentation Transcript

  • P R E S E N T E D B YTexas.gov and the City of AustinJune 3, 2013THE ROAD FORGOTTENWhat’s theroadmap foryour website?
  • Andrew GoodrickLead UX Designer | Texas.gov
  • Start with a Good Foundation
  • Sort Cards1) List your content2) Write each item on an index card3) Participants sort cards into groups4) Analyze the data
  • Check out the Competition1) Expected features2) Unique features3) Layout andnavigation4) Design patterns5) Mobile presentation6) Other features
  • Analytics as a UX Tool
  • Search First
  • Landing Pages
  • Lisa CarrellMarketing Associate| Texas.gov
  • 75% of clicks in 2012MOBILEUSERS2010: 3.4%2011: 8%2012: 10%Since April 2013 launch ofnew/responsive Texas.gov:16%Inputs to the Design Process Use your ANALYTICS• Make metric-driven decisions
  • Driver License Renewal“It would be great if the print out page would be condensed so I wouldnot need to carry a 8x11 sheet of paper in my wallet.”“Make the receipt fit on letter size paper. Thanks for this online option.Its GREAT!”“When printing receipt there should be a small renewal page to putwith old drivers license. It printed 3 full pages way too large to keepwith old drivers license in a billfold or purse.” Review CUSTOMER FEEDBACK• Listen to what they’re saying• Evaluate, look for trends, and adjust as necessaryExampleInputs to the Design Process
  • Support User Behavior Incorporate SOCIAL MEDIA• Engaging with constituents is the key to success
  • Support User Behavior Incorporate SOCIAL MEDIA• Make it easy for users to promote your info & servicesto their network with Share This featureMAINTAIN THECONVERSATION …thank them for their business andcross-promote other services
  • SITE SEARCH RESULTSSearches3,048,256Clicks on Texas.gov hosted services119,297Resulting Transactions45,410Conversion Rate38%May 2012-May 2013 Help users SEARCH & FIND what they’re looking forSupport User Behavior
  • Pete EichornDirector of Technology| Texas.gov
  • Go Mobile or Go HomeFrom: “Mobile is Eating the World” – Benedict Evans, Enders Analysis presentation at BEA, May 2013
  • Go Mobile or Go HomeNATIVE vs RESPONSIVE
  •  ADOPTION GROWS with improved capabilitiesGo Mobile or Go Home0%2%4%6%8%10%12%14%16%18%Jun-11 Sep-11 Dec-11 Mar-12 Jun-12 Sep-12 Dec-12 Mar-13Standard WebsiteTexas.gov Mobile Visitsm.texas.govResponsive Design
  • Geo-location
  • Geo-location
  • Matthew EsquibelInternet Services & IT ApplicationManager | City of Austin
  • Where we started…
  • Same approach…different flavor.• Customer analysis• Analytics / Best Practices• User groups• Citizen engagement• Design• Re-imagine not migrate
  • • User based navigation paths• Prominent search and service drop downs• Responsive design for mobile formats• Open Source CMS – Drupal• Open Data Portal
  • Questions?