Trends in Web Design for Government Sites
When speaking with government clients, I’m often asked about web design trends.
The fact is, design trends for government sites have very little to do with colors, fonts, or any sort of fleeting fashion. Nor are government sites the place where the boundaries of technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, or voice control are being pushed.
What matters most for government sites is trust, transparency, and ease of use.
Government sites have a lot of heavy lifting to do, and more so than ever before, these sites are serving as a central hub from which constituents keep informed about events, monitor public health alerts, take care of official business, stay connected to the community, and a lot more.
Web Design at Work
Those responsible for government and public sector sites tend to be very savvy about the need to engage constituents and ensure that the navigation and overall experience of their sites align with what visitors are looking to accomplish. The pandemic, of course, catapulted the importance of excellent UX to the forefront, but as COVID-19 hopefully heads for the history books, expectations for the UX of government sites will remain high.
Given the depth and breadth of content that often needs to be organized and accommodated on government sites, modern design practices such as proper use of white space along with a spacious and fresh feel that mitigates against clutter and confusion is an essential best practice. While the interior pages of the site often need to be more content-heavy, an open and inviting home page serves as an engaging launch pad for a wide range of user journeys.
Once the key persona groups who visit the site are defined, and the user journeys are mapped, the essential focus needs to be on streamlining and simplifying the UX, with a focus on removing any potential roadblocks or frustrations.
A people-first design philosophy is the “trend” that serves as a key driver for us at Promet Source. This calls for a recognition that government sites are being designed for a broad range of users -- those who are young, those who are elderly, users who are accustomed to conducting business online, users who are easily frustrated with technology, users with disabilities that require assistive technology to access the site, and a wide swath of users within every spectrum. Given the complex content models and scope of objectives that government sites need to accomplish, we find that Drupal is the CMS tends to be the best suited.
Much of the world’s websites and many government sites among them are running on outdated, clunky user interfaces that were developed long before the concept of user experience or UX entered into the general lexicon or the discipline of web design. Now that we understand the design imperative of defining end-user needs, goals, motivations, and pain points, we are much better positioned to leverage design thinking as a solution to streamline user experience journeys.
The fact is, design trends for government sites have very little to do with colors, fonts, or any sort of fleeting fashion.
- Peter Ross, Senior UI/UX Designer
Among the indicators of this trend is increasingly friendly and highly contextual navigational language. One example would be navigational tabs that represent a walk-through to specific talks. Rather than a “Forms” tab, or a list of departments, for instance, a tab we recently designed for a county website read: “I want to.” Clicking that tab resulted in a sub-menu of options within the categories of:
- Apply for
- Pay for
While there are a multitude of tasks that need to be accomplished on government websites, a well-designed government or public sector website factors in a lot more than information and functionality. Perspectives and messaging can be intricately woven into the design, through a holistic approach to collaborating with government clients and drawing upon multiple disciplines to create the look, feel, messaging, and the entire experience that conveys the government entity’s story and identity.
Working closely with content and development teams, we’re able to optimize engagement, conveying information a manner that is both creative and informative.
This holistic design approach to the user’s experience on a site digs much deeper and ensures a greater degree of inclusivity than simply asking, “does it look nice?” Government websites truly need to work for everyone.
The more we strategically approach design and UX and the more we educate ourselves and others on the best practices for inclusive design the better everyone will be for it. I see it as an opportunity to be conscious of others and unite within a digital platform.
Working in close collaboration with federal, state, county, and municipal clients, Promet Source is making a difference and having an impact. Interested in starting a conversation concerning the distinct objectives for your website? Let’s talk!