Your municipality’s website provides important information for area residents and visitors. However, it should do more than just create a one-way flow of information. Your website visitors may be in search of information when they visit, true, but there is also a chance that they need to communicate with someone.
There’s also the fact that you need to engender better public participation and engagement. Digital tools can allow you to accomplish both of these goals. Not sure how to go about doing that? We’ve created a list of the most critical tips to consider here.
When your visitors come to your website, they want information, plain and simple. Whether they’re searching for the operating hours of the local park, or they need to find the contact information for the clerk of courts, they need that data and they don’t have a lot of time to waste scouring your website.
The solution? Make everything searchable. A search bar at the top of the page allows your visitors to quickly and easily find the information that they need without a lot of hassle. Yes, search technology is old hat, but you would be surprised at how many municipalities lack this simple functionality.
If your website is not accessible to all of your residents, you’re not complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which can land you in hot legal water. However, more importantly, you’re doing your residents a disservice. They all deserve equitable access to the information and capabilities of your website. It’s simpler than ever before to ensure that your site is as accessible as possible, but it requires conscious design and adherence to best practices.
There’s no denying that your residents will need access to a wide range of information, but chances are good that some information will be needed more often than other types. For instance, maybe you have a lot of demand for information about trash collection. Perhaps your residents need regular updates about street closures and road repairs.
Determine what information is needed most often and then make it easier for your residents to access that information with the fewest clicks possible. You might even decide to go so far as to use Alexa or another AI skill/tool to give your residents access to this information without even having to visit your municipal website in the first place.
Content marketing is not just for businesses and organizations. It’s also an important consideration for municipal websites, although very few have taken steps toward creating a repository of rich, original content for visitors. You can get ahead of the curve, improve engagement, and even help foster improved communication by create content that is of interest to your audience. How do you do that?
Determine what topics are of interest to your residents. What brings them to your site most often in the first place? What do they search for after visiting your site?
Don’t focus solely on news and events – create content that answers visitor questions and explains topics that matter to them.
Regularly update all schedules, including street cleaning, parking meters, trash schedules, recycling schedules, and more.
The goal here is to increase engagement and communication, so it is important that you use the right tools to do that. Your website can only go so far. To help connect various segments of your audience, you can and should harness other technologies, including:
Each technology offers something different and allows you to reach a wider segment of your audience.
When it comes to creating engagement and fostering better communication with your residents, it’s vital that you embrace modern digital communication tools. This means that you need to go farther than just providing phone numbers for various government offices or leaders on your website, which is sadly the norm for many municipalities. In addition to phone numbers, you should also provide webforms that allow your residents to request service, report outages, request information, and more.
However, if you really want to increase engagement and bolster communication, you can take things a step further.
Use social media to increase direct communication with residents.
Use web chat tools to enable instant communication and allow residents to immediately get answers to questions.
Use a Messenger bot to provide answers to the most common questions your residents have.
Today, people expect a customized experience with virtually every website they visit. Google delivers curated content based on factors like search terms, search history, geographic location, and more. Amazon does something similar. You can get ahead of the pack by enabling your residents to enjoy a customized, personalized experience each time they visit your municipality’s website. How do you do that? The answer is machine learning, which allows your website’s software to adapt and change based on previous visits, search terms, information scanned, and other metrics.
When it’s all said and done, creating engagement and bolstering communications through your municipal website and other digital tools is simpler and more effective than you might realize. However, chances are good that you’re struggling to accomplish these goals due to a lack of time, budget, or even in-house talent. At Job Hub Group, our team of experts can help you create the ideal website, complete with advanced communication features and technology to improve engagement. Contact us today to learn more.