Citizen Experience and Service Design.
Citizen Experience Design is beginning to make headway in government websites, improving the way services are created and delivered. Governments have traditionally lagged behind sites aimed at consumers, largely due to inertia and the inability to iterate quickly. Aging, complex back-end systems are difficult to change, and the bureaucracy and resources required can make changes difficult.
This is now beginning to change as many governments are upgrading their technologies and integrating their web properties. As an example, by the end of this year the Canadian Government will have merged over 1500 different federal websites under one domain, Canada.ca. It will use Adobe Experience Manager as a content management system, and Amazon Web Services for its infrastructure. Initially only the html (static) web pages will be migrated into the system, but there is ongoing work to modernize and standardize all of the applications as well.
Improving the service design, and user experience for citizens has become an imperative. Citizens now expect the same level of service they receive from their banks, shopping, and news sites. Citizens now have more of a voice in government and are demanding efficient, and effective experiences in order to satisfy their evolving expectations.
Real-time status of processes is now demanded by citizens. Government phone centres are overwhelmed with calls about when the citizen’s benefits payments will arrive, the status of tax refunds, and other ongoing issues. If FedEx can track delivery of a parcel across the world in real time, why can’t my government tell me where my benefit cheque is?
Modern web systems are responsive and intelligently reflow to suit the screen sizes of the many devices citizens use on a daily basis. For simple processes the applications will work equally well on a smartphone as well as on their desktop or laptops. Mobile apps have their place in the government, but most services can be delivered equally well from a web interface.
While government websites will never be at the cutting edge of technology (nor should they) they will increasingly be able to react more quickly to the evolving needs of the digital citizens.