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In the News: 6 Trends That Will Shape Online Government in 2016

Vision Internet Says Customer Focus Will Drive Better Communication

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Dec. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Vision Internet, an innovative creator of online solutions for local government, forecasts six trends that will drive local government interactions with citizens in 2016.

"After partnering with more than 700 local government agencies throughout North America to design and develop municipal websites, Vision is in a prime position to identify issues and spot trends that cut across geographic, functional and cultural boundaries," said Ashley Fruechting, the company's senior director of strategic initiatives. "In 2016, creating a successful website will have less to do with technology and more to do with knowing how to apply the technology already built into advanced content management systems in a way that best serves the community."

Fruechting, who has spent the last 10 years counseling local government agencies on the most efficient and cost effective ways to interact with citizens, believes the following six trends will transform government websites in the year ahead.

  1. Content strategy: It's the end of the digital file cabinet. Municipal websites will be much more than large repositories of documents. Moving forward, local government leaders will need to take a step back to analyze their current websites and ask: Do we need this content? Who will use it and is it the right content for the job? They must decide what to keep, what to archive, what to delete, and what to write and how to write it.
  2. Customer-driven design: Usability and customer experience will drive local government website design well into the future. Sites will be small and nimble, allowing users to quickly perform their most common tasks quickly and easily. Cutting edge design tools now available, like parallax scrolling and video backgrounds, will help tell better stories about the community and what's happening in it.
  3. Analytics: You can't manage what you don't measure. More leaders will embrace Google Analytics and other tools that make it easier to meet the changing needs of their constituents. They will begin to think more like business -- communicating strategically and looking at citizens as customers. Departmental leaders will begin to break out of their silos to organize content that is consistent and delivers information the way their communities want, value and need it.
  4. Mobile: In 2016, mobile gov will be one step closer to becoming the de facto mandate for communicators at all levels of government. Mobile usage now accounts for 33% of all web traffic -- up 27% in the last year. The latest Pew report shows that a majority of smart-phone owners use their device to share and access information about local and community events. That's a lot of people you're excluding if your site isn't mobile friendly.
  5. Accessibility: Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) will continue to evolve. Local government agencies will need to be increasingly vigilant about meeting WCAG 2.0, ADA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act accessibility requirements designed to remove barriers that prevent interaction with or access to websites by people with disabilities. In 2015, the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division reached accessibility-related settlement agreements with 15 localities in 11 states.  Each settlement agreement included a section on web-based programs and services, and identified remedial actions, which must be completed to make websites compliant with WCAG 2.0 standards.
  6. Citizen engagement: Engagement doesn't just happen because you implement new technology; it's a mentality that begins with providing information and services citizens find important. Local government leaders will need to continually analyze their websites and identify the most frequently visited areas and popular content. Using this information, they must adjust their digital and content strategies to make sure this information is readily accessible. Strategies include creating or moving buttons or links, refreshing navigation or updating content.  When you make your website the hub of engagement, citizens will return again and again because they know they will easily find what they need."

"For leaders who care about serving their communities, treating their constituents like customers and their websites like friendly conversations will create win-win situations in 2016," Fruechting said. "Starting with research and following through with silo-breaking design and content will leave customers more satisfied and impressed that their local leaders are working to make their lives easier."

For more information about Vision Internet's transformative government website technology, call 888-263-8847 or visit visioninternet.com/contact-us.

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 nearly 700 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.

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