U.S. federal government agencies have a lot to manage: serving their constituents, maintaining compliance with complex and shifting regulations, and administering budgets, to name just a few tasks. It’s no surprise that keeping pace with the latest developments in digital communications isn’t always at the very top of the priority list.
Recent regulations, however, require executive agencies to pay a lot more attention to their online presence, engagement and functionality. Under new legislation, agencies must bring their web properties into the 21st century with standardized design and improved customer experience (CX).
Creating government websites that "delight customers" is difficult without a purpose-built digital tool to help. Government agencies will benefit from the use of a content management system (CMS) designed to assist them create and maintain websites that follow regulations and give those they serve an optimized online experience.
New regulations for government websites
The 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (21st Century IDEA) that Congress passed in December requires agencies to bring their websites and digital document handling capabilities up to private-sector standards.
The 21st Century IDEA directs executive agencies to make their websites and digital services standardized and easy to navigate, including for individuals with disabilities. The sites must be searchable, responsive, highly secure and mobile-friendly. Executive agency leaders must ensure this happens, including dedicating budget for the work of updating existing websites and digital services.
CX on government sites is now required to be similar to what customers find when shopping at their favorite stores or doing online banking. This improved “citizen experience” is part of the current administration’s agenda to engineer a “deep-seated transformation” in the federal digital infrastructure. This includes modernizing government IT functions; improving data handling, accountability and transparency; and refining workforce management.
The role of a purpose-built CMS
Government websites must be designed to provide specific services to users, and sometimes they must serve several purposes simultaneously. For example, a government website may need to provide basic administrative functions, allow users to interface with programs and benefits, maintain compliance with applicable regulations and laws, and offer visitors an enjoyable and informative online experience—all in the same place.
These needs differ from those of the private sector, where websites can be focused on fewer functions, can be minimally concerned with regulatory compliance, and may have less of an informational and administrative orientation. After all, private sector websites are often dedicated to selling products, which tends to require more straightforward transactions than providing government services.
Considering that government websites have unique purposes that don’t match those of the private sector, using private-sector-oriented technology to design them can cause agencies unnecessary headaches.
Creating and managing a website that provides multiple functions requires a robust CMS. But legacy CMS platforms readily available on the market are often a poor match for government agencies. They can be hard to use, expensive and require specialized IT support, especially when a website must comply with specific regulations or maintain heightened standards for privacy and security.
Using a CMS that’s purpose-built for government, on the other hand, makes it very easy for federal agencies to design and build modern websites that meet government requirements.
Brightspot is made for government
With new government laws, regulations and policies mandating website modernization, federal agencies are going to need trusted technology partners to ensure they are building sites that are compliant, functional and attractive.
Brightspot is designed to help government agencies deliver their specific services in the particular ways that law requires.
The turnkey solution comes with pre-built compliant templates and pages to enable users to build websites the way they need without reliance on IT. Brightspot also includes surveys and dashboards designed specifically for federal agencies, which allow these users to easily collect and analyze customer data. Users can leverage that data to create content that will provide a satisfying customer experience across all channels. The platform also features a user-friendly interface and tools that enable on-the-fly restructuring of content as new user data becomes available.
Importantly, the platform’s tools have default settings that mirror the U.S. Web Design Standards, the U.S. government’s prescribed UI components and visual styles for web properties. These standards were developed as a way of “raising the bar on what the American people can expect from their digital experiences.” Adhering to these guidelines ensures that each government website matches others and that its design and performance meet private-sector standards.