Designing a website can seem like a daunting task, particularly if you are designing it for a government department. Whether you’re a designer or developer, you can make the web design process easier by planning ahead.
Developing a government website is challenging even for the most experienced designers because of a few factors. First, there is a lot of information to be included and regularly updated to provide value to the users. Also, the resources you’ll get as a designer are limited and you’ll have to work with them.
These reasons often lead to poorly designed government websites and user experience is not up to the standards set by the private companies with elaborate and greatly designed sites. However, this need not necessarily be the case.
The top 10 government websites in the world follow some easy rules and design principles to make things work in their favor and users love them. So, what makes them special? It’s the simplicity of the site coupled with easy access to information. Let’s see how you too can build a great government website.
The Website is for the Users
It is important to start by knowing who you are designing for. You must ask yourself “Who is my audience?” And take the time to understand the demographics that matter to you. When designing for a government department, you’ll have access to all the data you need to find out who you are creating the site for. Go through the details and include features that appeal to the audience.
The Size of the Website
After determining who the website is, the next step is to plan the structure. Think of this as a plan. At this stage, you will create a sitemap and you should start from the home page. From there, you need to create a map for all the other pages on the site. Every page needs to redirect to the home page, but ask yourself where else they need to go. You should consider the size of the website and the information to be displayed.
A government website will have a lot of information to be included and you should carefully structure the site keeping all the relevant information easily discoverable by the users. Also, you should keep only the most important information on the Home page and direct the users to other important pages through easy-to-follow links.
The content might not be your first consideration when considering overall design, but it should never be underestimated. In a study, when users were given 15 minutes to consume content, 59% of users said they wanted the content to be beautifully designed. So, the combination of a great design and quality content is very important. Think of the website as a blank sheet of paper. It would be boring to say a few words on this paper that don’t look good. You need your content to help keep people on your website.
This is even more important for government websites, where people are looking for information. Lack of clear information is the main reason people leave a site. High-quality content can engage your audience, help you from an SEO perspective, and convey key messages to your customers.
Once the website has content, you must then consider including images. You can take pictures yourself for your department. This is the fastest and cheapest way to get pictures on your website. However, you may not be the best photographer. In such cases, you can hire a photographer to get all the images you need. This is an expensive solution, but this may be the only way to get the right image quality that suits your needs.
These days, we use the Internet in many ways and people choose to access the Internet from many different devices. From smartphones to widescreen televisions, there are screen sizes so large for websites to display. Having a responsive website can ensure a better user experience, which will help keep people on your website. With this in mind, you will have to consider how your design applies to a compact space like a smartphone, and whether the website appeals similarly to all devices.
Government websites are looked after mainly for important information that people do not get elsewhere. So, it’s important that you keep the information updated and also make it available for everyone. This means that you need to include features in your site that allow easy access for everyone, including people with disabilities. For example, you should include a screen reader or audio transcript of a video for someone with visual impairment. This is an extremely important factor and is mandatory for a government website to meet and maintain accessibility standards.
These are a few design considerations to keep in mind when designing a website for the government. Though challenging, the tips mentioned above should help you create a site that has a high chance of making it to the top 10 government websites in the world.