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Rules for great city websites

  1. Rules for great city websites
  2. Choose SaaS
  3. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) “Software as a service (SaaS; pronounced /sæs/) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.” - Wikipedia
  4. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) ● Web-based ● Frequent and/or recurring updates across one platform ● Subscription-based pricing (monthly/yearly) ● Centralized hosting (“the cloud”) ● Service/support
  5. SaaS (pros/cons) Pros ● Scalable ● Frequent/recurring product updates ● Pricing transparency (+ freemium, ‘try before buy’) ● Faster deployment ● Built-in hosting/development Cons ● Less customized than Service
  6. Service (pros/cons) Pros ● Highly customizable Cons ● Budgeting/pricing instability ● Must have a great internal product owner/manager
  7. Questions to ask ● Do you need customized development? ● Do you have budget for recurring/ongoing customized development? ● If yes to above question, will this be maintained internally or by a third party? ● If internally, do you have great developers/designers/IT managers that can maintain AND continually upgrade? (If no to this question, you should probably use SaaS.)
  8. Simplify procurement
  9. Decision-making traps ● Traditional RFP process ● Over-specifying ● Copying another city’s requirements ● Buying before trying ● Closed communication ● Unproductive criteria for valuing a vendor (like each team member’s resume) ● Large group of uninvolved stakeholders
  10. Productive procurement ● Be flexible ● Ask to try before you buy ● Consider monthly/annual ‘subscription’ options ● Consider staff time invested in decision process to your bottomline ● SaaS eliminates need for RFP, large/one-time purchase ● Forced into a more traditional procurement process? Consider RFI to see alternative options.
  11. Go ‘beta’
  12. ‘Beta’ “The objective of this phase is to build a fully working prototype which you test with users. You’ll continuously improve on the prototype until it’s ready to go live, replacing or integrating with any existing services.” -GOV.UK
  13. ‘Beta’ ● ‘alpha,’ ‘beta,’ ‘pilot,’ ‘test’ ● Lets you incrementalize (start small and evolve) ● Allows government to engage with public, get feedback ● Is more transparent ● Limits surprise factor for residents ● Lower stress on staff updating their processes ● Encourages experimentation
  14. ‘Beta’ tips ● Promote and educate to foster a productive feedback loop. ● Have fun and try things (be open to new ideas). ● Set a deadline for launching to live.
  15. Examples
  16. Think mobile-first
  17. Responsive design
  18. Why mobile ● Mobile usage is increasing ● Build once (saves time, money) ● No need for stand-alone app ● Search engine friendly
  19. State of city mobile
  20. Be service-oriented
  21. Service-focused ● Emphasize what you do (payments, jobs, issue reporting) ● De-emphasize personality/agency- focused approach
  22. Focus on the user
  23. User-focused ● Follow a common look and feel (pattern library) ● Use feedback mechanisms (polls, surveys) ● Employ and monitor analytics ● Be empathetic
  24. Analytics tools
  25. Have a content strategy
  26. Content strategy ● Make this a priority ● Write user stories (“I am a resident/visitor/business ...”) ● Identify content goals ● Follow a style guide (AP, Chicago, Conscious - age/gender) ● Use a content management system (WordPress, Drupal, etc.)
  27. State of city CMS
  28. Prioritize accessibility
  29. Accessibility ● Goal: “build sites that are usable by everyone, not to meet minimum standards” (18F) ● Law: Section 508 - requires that government provides equal access to information to disabled employees ● Standard: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
  30. Accessibility tips ● Ensure keyboard access ● Use semantic headings (h1, h2, h3, etc.) ● Label form elements ● Use alt/img tags ● Use multimedia captioning (audio/video) ● Take into account color contrast
  31. Leverage integrations
  32. Integration ● Avoid watered down catch-all solutions ● Take advantage of the ‘internet of things’ ● Data and application programming interfaces (APIs)
  33. Integrations tips ● Make sure third-party vendors are appropriate for your city ● Always asks third-party vendors to verify their API is open. ● Get verification of third-party API usage.
  34. Be secure
  35. Security ● Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) ● Password management ● Two-factor authentication (2FA) ● Back-ups
  36. HTTPS
  37. HTTPS Guarantees: ● Confidentiality. The visitor’s connection is encrypted, obscuring URLs, cookies, and other sensitive metadata. ● Authenticity. The visitor is talking to the “real” website, and not to an impersonator or through a “man-in-the-middle”. ● Integrity. The data sent between the visitor and the website has not been tampered with or modified. Source:
  38. Password management ● Easily create strong passwords ● Can safely share passwords ● Major tools have freemium plans
  39. Password management tools
  40. State of federal HTTPS
  41. State of city HTTPS
  42. Security (tips) ● Limit users, permissions ● Use strong passwords ● Be diligent about updating your CMS software ● Subscribe to your CMS security announcements ● Back-up regularly (daily)
  43. Q&A
  44. More questions? Email ● ● Twitter ● @getProudCity ● @lukefretwell