Why Citizen-Driven Web Design Matters

July 21, 2022 by Jessica Sparrow

Why Citizen-Driven Web Design Matters

When designing and building websites for constituent use, government websites must make information and services accessible and widely available. While dissemination of information and accessibility are arguably the most important factors, there are others to consider. Citizens expect the same effortless experiences across all platforms and devices, emphasizing the necessity of analytics to drive web design. Who better to model a website after than the users themselves?

That’s why Tyler Maryland and Tyler Mississippi, now a part of Tyler Technologies, recently redesigned their public-facing websites to meet their constituents' evolving needs, using everyday users as their target audience and turning out considerably more accessible and efficient websites in the process.

Maryland.gov's Data-Driven Implementation

The Tyler Maryland team reviews analytics and metrics annually to understand current usage patterns and adjust layout and content. In addition, the Maryland office adheres to a strict set of guiding principles derived from an in-depth analysis of industry research and other defined best practices.

By evaluating access trends over time and reducing content users interact with less often, the innovative new design of Maryland.gov focuses on the most accessed content and removes unnecessary distractions. In collaboration with the Maryland Department of Information Technology, the Tyler Maryland office redesigned the Maryland.gov home page to include only the most accessed components such as search, popular search shortcuts, the chatbot feature, primary navigation, and promotional slider content. All other content was transferred to interior pages. These enhancements dramatically reduce the pages' load time and scroll length, supporting the upward trend in mobile internet adoption.

The Maryland.gov redesign was implemented based on the following analytics:

  • Since 95.5% of clicks from specific elements on the homepage, Tyler has enhanced those features with a new, simplified concept.
  • With 4% of clicks coming from the "Popular Online Services," "Top News," and "Social Media" links, these links were enhanced and made more prominent in the new design.
  • With a 93% user satisfaction rating for the website's "Agent Mary" chatbot feature, Tyler moved the chat feature next to the search bar to assist in offering real-time assistance to citizens.

“We are always looking at ways to innovate and deliver on our commitment to transparency,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “This website upgrade made it easier, faster and more convenient for Marylanders to engage with government services and resources, and for visitors to learn more about the state.”

The Tyler Maryland office works with 56 government entities across the state and has delivered more than 150 digital products and services. The team's work includes Maryland.gov, the statewide Vehicle Safety Inspection system, Maryland Business Express, the Comptroller's TaxPay portal, and the Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MVA) suite of online services. These services are widely used and make life easier for the state's citizens and businesses. The solutions Tyler provides continuously boast over a 93% customer satisfaction rating, with more than 90% of Marylanders relying on Maryland.gov services as their primary channel to conduct business with the state.

“Our team focused on unified branding, visual aesthetics, personalized user experience, and data-driven design to enhance the overall customer experience, which has been one of Governor Hogan’s main priorities since day one of his administration,” said Secretary Michael Leahy, Maryland Department of Information Technology.

Ms.gov's Citizen Engagement Technique

A constant in Mississippi's citizen engagement strategy is prioritizing citizens and extending the experience across every touchpoint where citizens interact with the State of Mississippi. Each year, government technology trends expand, and with that growth comes ever-changing engagement strategies. Mississippi consistently reevaluates the techniques and methods used for citizen engagement and has adopted innovative technologies to accommodate all generations that engage with Mississippi.

The ms.gov redesign was fueled by three main engagement points:

  • Citizen voice – The success of many of Mississippi's programs is due to the citizens and users that access multiple channels looking for information and vital state services. Tyler Mississippi office solicits citizen feedback year-round through open surveys on websites and services, active social media, state-of-the-art feedback via chatbot technology, and insights from Google Analytics performance data.
  • Accessibility – Tyler takes measures to ensure all services are well-designed, easy to use, and accessible to increase citizen use. More than half of Mississippians rely on mobile devices for data access. They want transparent, accessible, and interactive government services delivered to them on their most frequent devices.
  • Collective Intelligence – Tyler has embraced and implemented many technologies that have transformed how the state engages with citizens. The Tyler Mississippi office was an early adopter of voice technology; in fact, they were the first government agency in the nation to utilize a chatbot feature and iOS business chat to engage citizens, making it web-accessible using state-of-the-art AI technology.

“Tyler Mississippi office and Mississippi Information Technology Services (ITS) partner together on Mississippi’s citizen-centric, cross-boundary approach to delivering digital government services by presenting emerging technology across several experiences,” said Drew Levanway, Tyler Mississippi office general manager. “Mississippi’s enterprise digital government experience encompasses an ecosystem of more than 350 services delivered to citizens through a responsive and chatbot-featured ms.gov, ms.gov social media presence, Alexa and Google, and MyMS —the state’s citizen-centric platform.”

In 2021, Mississippi's government services reached more than 6.5 million citizens and securely processed more than 1.4 million digital government transactions totaling more than $151 million. Adoption of the state's portfolio of 350-plus digital government services steadily grows by 10% on average year over year. Tyler Mississippi has also seen significant adoption of the site's citizen engagement tools, specifically Mississippi's chatbot, MISSI. Since MISSI's launch in 2017, the chatbot feature has fielded more than 1.2 million citizen inquiries.

“As the first state in the nation to offer a state government chatbot, MISSI now supports 600-plus types of interactions to deliver information quickly to ms.gov visitors,” said Levanway. “The MyMS citizen platform sends reminders to citizens to renew their driver’s license, and the “Ask Mississippi” Alexa Skill, and Google Assistant deliver real-time information using a call and action voice response. Together, this cross-channel technology approach presents a single view of Mississippi government that is accessible from any device.”

When it comes to government websites, it's all about meeting the citizens where they are. These two state government websites are evidence that the best government web designs are driven by, and modeled after, citizen behavior.

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