If you’re a program manager or a federal web developer you’ve probably been given a seemingly simple task: Create a basic website as part of a new initiative at your agency. The hardest part is often not crafting the content or designing the prototype, but getting the security and privacy compliance in order to launch and maintain the actual website’s compliance status. For that work, you might have to hire a contractor or put extra strain on your agency’s web team.
Related Event: Create Once, Publish Everywhere Applied—HHS Content Models and Portability, Tuesday, April 18, 2017; register here. Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is sharing its content models and their related Drupal features for you to use on your sites. A content model is a representation of types of content and their inter-relationships. Content modeling takes content items and breaks them down into smaller structures, called content types.
We’re excited to launch a complete redesign of USDA.gov featuring stronger visual storytelling components, a more modern user-experience with easy to find services and resources, and to top it off, a completely mobile-friendly design. Through careful planning, thoughtful design, and a primary focus on user experience and usability, we’ve taken the best of government and industry expertise and put it into creating our new website. This has been a year-long project, but to do this right, we wanted to make sure we tapped into every possible resource.
Maps and geospatial analysis have become increasingly important as they allow the FCC to display information to the public in an interactive visual format. The FCC’s maps have become useful tools for conveying data in conjunction with Commission reports and public notices. The FCC’s maps site serves as a centralized hub for data visualizations and is one of the most highly trafficked parts of the Commission’s website. Since the launch of the original FCC maps site, a total of 53 maps have been published – including 15 this year – on topics ranging from nationwide LTE coverage to fixed broadband deployment data.
****Gray Brooks of GSA gave us a great definition of APIs in the DigitalGov University (DGU) presentation, Introduction to APIs. He described APIs as “Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, are web services that allow people to more easily consume content and data in multiple ways—via mobile devices, mobile apps, innovative mash-ups, and much more.” Simply put, “APIs are a better way to get government information and services into the hands of the people who need them.
Here at DigitalGov, we generally focus on federal governmental digital efforts within the U.S. It is where we live and operate, so it makes sense, but many governments across the world struggle with the same issues and leverage technology as a common solution. When I came across an article where Australia announced its “government as an API” platform was available, it seemed like a great opportunity to see how another country is tackling structured and open content.
I noticed recently that I have spent a decent amount of time discussing or referencing content workflow, but I haven’t spent much time on how to actually create or use workflows. Developing content workflows can be a fairly painless process that can make your regular content creation a much smoother and efficient process. Content workflows will vary depending on your agency and can cover specific topics such as blog workflows, social media workflows or even general site maintenance.
I always think of SEO like the dentist—no one really likes it, but you need to do it. Yet, despite my lack of excitement for the topic, this will be at a minimum my second post (here’s the first about the relationship between creating good content and SEO practices. Today I want to dive a little more into often overlooked aspects of the content creation process and overall content maintenance.
Recently, I shared some suggestions and personal lessons learned for agencies either shopping for a new CMS or preparing to revamp their content strategy and workflow. Let’s take things one step further and focus on arguably the most important parts of your CMS: the content creator or user. Arguments can be made that content is the most important, but the user creates that content, so either way we have a tight first and second most important ranking.
A Content Management System (CMS) allows people to easily publish, maintain and update information online. Choosing a CMS (or deciding whether you need one at all) is one that many agencies have faced. It’s not an easy choice because there are many solutions available to content managers. As government agencies, the majority of content we deliver is for a large audience, the public. Therefore, your CMS should be a tool that will allow you to quickly and easily share information with the public.
As the product manager of Sites, my job is to make sure that our service delivers what we offer: provide an easy, fast and cost‐effective solution for federal agencies that want to create a secure government website to reach the public. With 40 websites that are currently live or in active development, our program is constantly evolving. Our roadmap is filled with milestones designed to improve our service, address our customers’ needs, and keep our platform up to date.
In May 2014, Sarah Crane discussed the importance of structured content, APIs and the development of a “Create Once, Publish Everywhere” (COPE) strategy at USA.gov via a three part video series. After my recent post about a world without Web pages, Sarah and I connected and we discussed the challenges she has experienced during the COPE project at USA.gov and some lessons to consider whether you’re at the beginning or early stages of a similar project.
Imagine a world without Web pages, only intelligent, self-assembling chunks of content waiting to respond to your needs. The page is irrelevant, there may be no context beyond what is included in your content. The content has to survive on its own, perform its goals on its own. Originally when creating content, you would take into account the things that surround it on that page; they give it additional context and relevance.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are website redesigns. In line with the piecemeal responsive Web design implementation trend we recently highlighted, the new Ed.gov website redesign happened in three phases. In this case, budget limitations and existing content management systems (CMSs) influenced the decision-making process. “We use three different CMSs,” said Jill James, Web director at the Department of Education. “We timed the phases of our redesigns with technical upgrades that we needed to do anyway.
Most of us in the DigitalGov community recognize that responsive Web design is one approach to mobile first and most of us have a pretty clear picture of what it means—a responsive website will adjust to different devices, and the content will neatly change its layout from one screen size to another. But do you know how it happens? Would you know how to implement responsive Web design in your agency?
As traffic to desktop .gov websites declines, how we publish our content increasingly matters. We need to meet people where they are as they seek information on the Internet. To do so, we need to adjust to the new world of mobile applications, social media, and instant answers provided by search engines. Freeing Content from Our Websites In this content sharing era, it is important to separate the content from how it appears on your site.
When faced with a big, daunting problem to solve, it’s human nature to try to tackle it by breaking it down into smaller parts and taking it “one step at a time.” The message from a recent DigitalGov University webinar on public prize competitions (AKA ‘challenges’) was that the government can often receive better solutions by going through the exact same process, and giving awards at each step.
World Cup fever, everyone’s got it—even the Broadcasting Board of Governors‘ (BBG) Voice of America has reporters covering the event. For this year’s World Cup, VOA has teamed up with the Office of Digital and Design Innovation (a digital team inside the BBG) to create two new sites: one in English and one in French. These mobile-firsts sites are light-weight, responsive and built to meet the needs of the network’s African audiences, which are increasingly turning to mobile for news and information.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is bringing lots of change to the traditional healthcare landscape as practitioners and healthcare companies gear up for an influx of patient demand. There are also changes to the way healthcare companies and doctors will track and report reimbursements. And not only is the healthcare changing but also are the mobile habits of healthcare practitioners — especially doctors. According to InformationWeek, 86% of physicians and “mid-level” clinicians now use smartphones in their professional activities, up from 78% in 2012.
Why Invest in a Content Management System? Does it take too long to update and post digital content? Do you lack consistent branding across your website(s)? Is outdated, redundant content leading to a poor customer experience? Does your agency website show up too far down in search results? Are you re-creating the same content for different platforms such as Web or mobile? A content management system (CMS) can address these issues and significantly improve how your agency delivers and manages digital information—positively impacting your bottom line.
Improving the federal government’s ability to deliver digital information anytime, anywhere, on any device—via open content—is a key goal of the Digital Government Strategy. A content management system (CMS) can help your agency move to an open content model, making it easier for people to find, share, use, and re-use your information. The key steps in getting ready to move to a CMS include: Prepare Your Content Choose a CMS Migrate Your Content to a CMS Prepare Your Content Develop a Content Strategy A content strategy defines such things as topics, themes and purpose, and can also play a part in website governance, customer experience, metadata and search engine optimization (SEO).
Wikipedia says that structured content refers to information that’s been broken down and classified using metadata. It can also refer to information that’s been classified using XML or other standard or proprietary forms of metadata. The National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI) move to structured content has allowed them to easily deliver their content anywhere, anytime, and on any device. The Challenge The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has a huge base of information on cancer treatments that is continually updated.
Recently HHS CTO Bryan Sivak outlined a new vision for healthcare.gov. The site will relaunch this June with a completely rethought design and architecture. The new healthcare.gov follows a new CMS-free philosophy. It will be a completely static website, generated by Jekyll. This shift will allow HHS to move away from the use of a content management system for managing Heathcare.gov. Website generators like Jekyll work by combining template files with content and rendering them to static html pages.
A case study on how the Department of Education used the Drupal content management system (CMS) to publish press releases as structured content to automatically generate listing pages and reduce errors and posting time. The Challenge The Department of Education was posting press releases using a system that posted them as static HTML files. The site design required press releases to be linked from several different pages, but the system was not designed to create those links automatically.
A case study on how NASA is choosing a new enterprise content management system (CMS). The Challenge NASA.gov needs a new enterprise CMS. They’re facing issues such as software obsolescence, inconsistent website governance, and a large amount of unstructured content stored in flat HTML files. Their current system is almost a decade old, and the vendor no longer provides technical support. They need an enterprise solution that will enable offices throughout NASA to collaborate on content creation, instead of having each component create content in isolation.
_ Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services._ Medicare.gov is the consumer website for Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and advocates. The site includes information about Medicare plans, coverage, and care quality managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services within Department of Health and Human Services. Initially, the site was going to be improved to implement a web content management system that would allow for easier maintenance of content on the site.