5 Best Practices To Make Your Municipal Website More Effective
For a municipal website to be effective it needs to contain all relevant information pertaining to your community in an accessible, and easy-to-navigate format. All listed best practices come standard with every CiviKit website and are developed from over a decade of working with 60+ municipalities. Contact information can be found at the bottom of the page.
1. Periodically update your design and layout:
Municipal websites should be cleaned up or updated at least every 5-7 years to ensure website clarity and accessibility. Outdated or cluttered websites can discourage participation, even if the information on the website is accurate and relevant it may be too difficult to navigate or too uninviting to be located. A recommendation to maintain website ease of navigation is following the '3-click rule' where all content on the website can be found within 3 clicks of the homepage.
2. Make Your Website Accessible:
An effective website is accessible to the entire community equally, including members with disabilities. Some key features of an accessible website are:
- Mobile Optimized: The website should not be limited to desktop/laptop compatibility only.
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0: As this is becoming a legal standard, it is crucial that municipal websites follow certain accessibility requirements to ensure website navigation is user-friendly:
- Mandatory alt text: Alternate (alt) text helps screen readers and search engines identify what an image contains
- Descriptive link text: Meaningful link text sets user expectations for what the link offers
- Page titles & headings: Distinct page titles and logical heading hierarchy for better navigation and scannability on screen readers
3. Ensure Content is Relevant and Accurate:
If community members see old/outdated information on the website, they will have a hard time differentiating up-to-date information, reducing the overall effectiveness of your website. Important areas to keep relevant are:
- Council Bios
- Municipal Service information
- Tax Information & Bylaws
Highlight Important Updates on the Homepage:
It is important that any big news or events going on in your municipality are easy to locate on your website. The most important updates should always be presented on the homepage, this includes:
- News/events: This should be up to date and relevant including what, where, and when so it’s easy for the community to always stay informed.
- Emergency Alerts: Emergency alerts should stand out and be one of the first things noticed when entering the website.
Meet User Expectations:
Regardless of what your residents need, they should be able to find it, or information on it:
- Online forms: Permits, PDF forms, complaint forms, requests, etc. Should all be readily available and well organized. Residents who access the website looking for online forms can be easily frustrated if locating these forms is not convenient.
- Meetings, minutes, and agendas: Allow your residents to stay as up-to-date as possible on internal updates. Providing these details creates more transparency and trust between your municipality and your community.
Enhance two-way communication:
It’s crucial not only for your municipality to provide information to the community but to allow the community to respond.
- Surveys/Polls: Utilizing surveys and polls is an effective way to gain feedback on certain processes and encourage participation while giving your community a voice.
- Blogs / Stories: Not only are blogs a good way at spreading communication, but it also allows your municipalities to highlight blogs created by your community.
We're here to help!
This list of best practices covers some of the most crucial components of an effective municipal website, however, there are still many additional features that can be included to increase the effectiveness of your municipal website. If you’re looking to redesign or update your website, it can be a large and overwhelming task. At Upanup we have you covered with our decade of working with over 60 municipalities on website solutions. All Upanup websites come with all the above, are built to be highly accessible, and meet WCAG guidelines. If you’re looking to improve your website, we’re here to help.
Reach out today to receive a complimentary CiviKit information package!