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Recaps

Webinar Recap: Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) June Meeting

This month’s Plain Language of Community Practice meeting featured Katherine Spivey’s presentation, Plain Language Spectrum: Every Step Counts! In this highly useful DigitalGov University (DGU) webinar, she explains how you can move forward with plain language even when you don’t have permission to edit copy, followed by a half hour Q & A session. Many people don’t get plain language (also known as plain communication or plain writing) right the very first time, but through practice, can gain clarity and improve their plain language skills.

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Webinar Recap: Better, Faster, and More Flexible—U.S. Web Design Standards Update

The Road to Launch Version 1.0 You may have noticed a new, cleaner, and more modern look to some government websites over the last year—these are the web properties that were early adopters of the Draft U.S. Web Design Standards from 18F, the digital services agency which is part of the General Services Administration (GSA). The Standards are located at https://standards.usa.gov, with helpful links to the individual UI components, design principles, and page templates.

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Webinar Recap: Social Media + External Affairs = Outreach Success

Summary: How to leverage your resources to reach Spanish-dominant Hispanics online. A recent DigitalGov University (DGU) webinar provided an introduction to the intersection of two teams with different audiences reaching consensus on goals to maximize insight and outreach effectiveness. Social Media Outreach Goals What does social media outreach success look like? Success is when agencies and stakeholders have developed relationships that support each other’s social media and digital campaigns.

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Webinar Recap: Snaps and Stripes—Sharing Public Service Stories with Snapchat

What does Snapchat, the disappearing message-and-video platform most used by teenagers, have to do with government outreach and communications programs? Well, Snapchat has quickly become an incredibly effective digital storytelling medium, and content creators across multiple government agencies have adopted it as an important part of their programs. A recent New York Times article described how nearly 35 million users in the United States watched highlights and stories from the Summer Olympics on Snapchat.

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Webinar Recap: A Look At Google’s Media Tool and Platform Offerings

Suddenly, digital video is everywhereon your social timelines. As a government storyteller, you may be overwhelmed about all the tools available and all of the features each publishing platform has to offer. Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat all offer great video platforms that are free and easy to use, plus they make it easy for you to market to your social followers on those respective platforms. When most people think of Google, they often think of the search engine, but Google also has been on the forefront of creating media and research tools, metric suites and content presentation platforms for years.

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What is Citizen Science? A Recent Webinar Explores How the Federal Government Engages the Public via Crowdsourcing

From the National Park Service (NPS) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of citizen science has become a prominent factor in the science community and a critical tool for the federal government. A recent DigitalGov University (DGU) webinar provides an introduction to the concept and shows how the federal government is using it to engage the public and address important issues. The federal government has seen a surge of citizen science initiatives thanks to several developments, starting with a memo from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that outlined ways agencies can use citizen science.

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Analytics Trainings: 2016 So Far

In 2016, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) team has ramped up our training schedule. We appreciate all the DAP users that have attended our trainings and we’re happy to provide the material. We’ve had many users ask about video of our sessions, so we wanted to provide you with some of our recorded trainings from 2016 so far. Bookmark this page, but don’t forget about it! Here are some things we’ve covered in 2016:

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A Problem Without Definition Is a Challenge Without a Solution

A prize competition often starts with a problem. In order to get help to find a solution, people need to clearly understand your problem. Understanding and effectively communicating your problem isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. Problems are like spaghetti—messy and complex, says Denys Resnick, Executive Vice President of Strategic Programs at NineSigma Inc., which provides open innovation services. Resnick joined Denice Shaw, the lead for challenges and prizes at the U.

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Using Pirate Metrics to Analyze Your Mobile Application’s Audience

What Makes a Native App Successful? There are over 200 native applications in the federal government with various download numbers. Are the ones with the most downloads the most successful? Is the one with fewer users who are more engaged more successful? It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. David Cooper, the Mobile Application Development Lead with the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) and member of the MobileGov Community of Practice, said during a recent DigitalGov University (DGU) webinar, that while vanity metrics such as page views for websites and downloads for apps make you feel good, they don’t tell you anything about how users like your app or site.

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How to Create Portable Content with Structured Content Models

Structuring your content for portability across media platforms gives your agency the ability to not only place your message on other properties, but gives you the assurance that your information will always be up-to-date across multiple platforms. This ability is never more important than during an emergency, whether it is a natural disaster or a health crisis such as the Zika virus disease. Three members of the Open and Structured Content Working Group discussed all things structured content during the “Creating Portable Content with Structured Content Models” webinar earlier this year.

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An Introduction to Open Data and APIs

The federal workplace is abuzz these days with talk about open data and how agencies can leverage that data through APIs. According to the federal Open Data Policy, data should be managed as an information asset, and making it discoverable and usable (in other words, open). Open data “not only strengthens our democracy and promotes efficiency and effectiveness in government, but also has the potential to create economic opportunity and improve citizens’ quality of life.

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Recap: How to Overcome Cultural Resistance to Agile in Government

Armed with the knowledge that ‘most studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains,’ federal change agents can better prepare for possible cultural resistance as they begin to implement agile practices at their agencies. There are a variety of resistant-to-change personas (change is painful for most of us, but we dislike it in different ways) those seeking change will need to understand to be successful. Bill Brantley, ‘agile OG,’ from the U.

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Creating a Culture of Engagement – Webinar Recap

Employee engagement, evidenced by displays of dedication, persistence, effort and overall attachment to organization and mission, is a key factor in business success, but it can be a struggle for government organizations. Organizational leaders seeking to cultivate a culture of engagement need tangible examples of how to successfully move the needle in a positive direction. The annual Employee Viewpoint Survey (EVS) can provide agencies with a tangible way to measure employee engagement.

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Quizzes: The Secret Weapon of the World’s Best Content Creators

Online quizzes have rapidly risen to the front of the social media revolution. “In 2014, 8 out of 10 of the most shared articles on the Web were quizzes,” states Owen Fuller of content company Movement Ventures. Content creators leverage quizzes to successfully drive customer engagement and increase customer website conversions (to take action such as filling out a form, supplying an email address or making a purchase.) Federal agencies may benefit from using quizzes as part of their communication strategy.

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Challenges & Prizes Webinar Series Concludes, but Training Still Available

It began with a history lesson and ended with an eye to the future. In between, the Expert Training Series: How to Design & Operate Prizes to Maximize Success covered nearly every aspect of what it takes to run successful incentivized competitions. Challenge.gov and DigitalGov University partnered with XPRIZE Foundation to bring together expert speakers from across the federal government and industry for seven webinars that began last summer and ran through January.

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The Day After: Real Impacts Begin When a Challenge Ends

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh won the Orteig Prize for becoming the first pilot to fly nonstop from New York to Paris. Few know that Lindbergh won $25,000 for the flight, but everybody knows about the revolution that followed. That transatlantic flight opened people’s minds to what was possible in air travel. Investment in the aviation industry exploded, as did the number of people buying plane tickets. Obviously, the impact of the Orteig Prize continues to this day.

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Making Your Agency Apps Secure

It’s Saturday night: Do you know what your mobile app is doing? Securing your mobile device is hard (no matter what day of the week). And there are numerous threats that can be posed by the apps on your device: an app could be spying on you, stealing your money, stealing data or reconfiguring the settings on your device. Security and privacy are part of the six Mobile User Experience Guidelines developed by the MobileGov Community of Practice.

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#SomosSocial: Bilingual Twitter Chats—How to Do Them Effectively

There are 11.7 million + reasons to be on Twitter—the approximate number of Hispanics in the U.S. who are using the platform. And out of those 11.7 million, 43% tweet in English and in Spanish. Hispanics over index their counterparts when it comes to digital technologies and services, but how do you reach them and target your messages via Twitter chats? On December 9, USAGov and Salud Today led a DigitalGov University webinar to discuss how to organize, plan, and execute a successful bilingual Twitter chat.

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A Sense of Purpose: Strong Communities Can Overcome Big Challenges

Cook-offs, bike rides, parades and dance parties—these are not the traditional public hearing-style events for which government agencies are known. But these events helped to fuel the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rebuild by Design Challenge (PDF, 484 KB, 1 page, January 2016), boosting the collective morale among a complex, multidisciplinary network of engaged stakeholders. Because the challenge’s community structure was based on a common goal—to rebuild following Hurricane Sandy—participants left their egos at home, shared information and learned from one another.

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How FSA Revamped Their Online Presence with Mobile Moments in Mind

Let the mic drop! Mobile moments are created with the expectation that an app can stun the crowd. Do not let your audience down; they may never come back. Federal Student Aid (FSA), in an effort to provide better customer service, decided to build a mobile-responsive website. Kaegy Pabulos, a Borrower Experience Specialist and project manager for StudentAid.gov, described this as a challenge because of the need to combine over 12 different websites into one access center.

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Government Customer Service Update—Webinar Recap

OMB’s Lisa Danzig, who co-leads the Cross Agency Priority (CAP) Customer Service Goal with Carolyn Colvin, from the Social Security Administration, shared a status update on the CAP goal work they’ve done since we last spoke with her, earlier this year. Background When the public comes to the federal government for information and services, they should receive an optimal customer experience. The Customer Service CAP goal spells out specific strategies to help us achieve this.

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Connecting with the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team

The new Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) aims to make government programs more effective and efficient. Amira Choueiki from the SBST joined us to explain what the SBST does, and to discuss some of the projects they’ve worked on. Amira also shared how agencies can propose projects for the SBST to tackle, and explained how social and behavioral sciences, customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) work together to enhance government products and services.

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CX Data in Action Series: Case Study #1

It’s not new that agencies are inundated with data, but what data should you collect to improve your agency’s programs and enhance the customer experience? The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefit Security Administration’s (EBSA) has been perfecting their process to collect actionable data for the past 14 years. EBSA is a regulatory agency that develops and enforces private sector employee benefit plans, such as 401Ks, traditional pensions, and health care benefit plans.

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#SomosSocial: 5 Keys for Government to Reach Hispanics Through Social Media

Hispanics are one of fastest growing demographics in the U.S. But like any demographic, there are important nuances to consider when connecting with this audience. Insight into your audience’s motivations, behavior and preferences is key for anyone trying to engage with the public. We know every day that more and more Hispanics are on social media, but on which platforms?, Where are they participating? And more importantly, in what language?

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DigitalGov Summit Recap: Innovation Through Customer Experience

Meeting customer needs can be done, no matter what agency you represent. A panel discussion at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit delved into customer experience (CX) work at three agencies with diverse missions. Andrew Hughey, Product Development Director at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), moderated the panel that featured Stephanie Thum, Vice President of Customer Experience at the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), and David Simeon, myUSCIS product manager for U.

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Training Series Offers Marketing Tips for Prizes & Challenges

Marketing and public education is an essential part of any successful prize competition. The good news for federal agencies working with tight budgets is that both can be accomplished without breaking the bank. “We have found other ways than spending a lot of money,” said Denice Shaw, senior advisor to the Chief Innovation Officer at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shaw joined two marketing experts from XPRIZE, October 20, for the latest webinar in the Expert Training Series: How to Design & Operate Prizes to Maximize Success, a seven-part educational forum on incentivized prize competitions.

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Mission Possible: Experts Plot the Steps for Running Successful Prize Competitions

Long before the final prize is awarded, a successful challenge starts with a master plan. That’s the point experts drove home during Operational Best Practices and Lessons Learned, the third webinar in Challenge.gov’s ongoing series on running successful prize competitions. Sandeep Patel, open innovation manager for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Idea Lab, joined forces with Ben Bain and Dr. Jyotika Virmani, of XPRIZE, to offer strategies for agencies to plan and execute problem-solving events that deliver on their potential.

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Using Plain Language to Write for the Web

Plain language will make you a better writer. For federal employees, it’s also the law. On September 9th, Katherine Spivey, Co-Chair of the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN), presented a webinar on plain writing principles and how to apply them to Web writing. She also addressed how federal writers can comply with the Plain Writing Act of 2010. For Spivey, plain language comes down to one simple question.

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Speed Matters: Optimizing Your Website For Maximum Performance

Every second counts, even those precious two or three seconds it takes your website to load. When it comes to mobile, users won’t wait. During a recent DigitalGov University webinar, Jeremy Vanderlan, Technical Deputy for AIDS.gov, explained how even fractions of a second can have a negative impact on a user’s impression of your website. Performance/load time for Web pages has become so important that Google now considers it one of three equal components to good user experience, along with design and functionality, he noted.

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DigitalGov Summit Recap: Building Privacy & Identity Management in the Open

How can government protect citizens while delivering the services they demand in the modern age? This was a theme of the panel discussion on privacy and identity management at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. “Cybersecurity has really come a long way in the last 10 years, unifying the conversation about risk across organizations,” said Sean Brooks, panelist and privacy engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), “but privacy has really lagged behind.

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DigitalGov Summit Recap: The Need for Change Agents, plus the Internet of Everything, from A to Z

The Internet of Things is already here. How will we prepare for the Internet of Everything? David Bray, Chief Information Officer at the Federal Communications Commission, and Eisenhower Fellow, spoke about the IoT, IoE, and the need for change agents during the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. Bray argued that the IoT is already here, with devices like smartphones and FitBits widely used. As we move towards the IoE, when everything is connected, Bray asked attendees to consider the implications of IoE on what we do in public service.

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Federal Student Aid Customer Experience Journey: A Recap

Customer Experience (CX) deserves a voice at an agency’s senior levels. Putting CX at the forefront of policy-making decisions will have the most positive impact for customers. Elevating CX is how the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) champions the 22 million applicants seeking $150 billion in education loans each year. Brenda Wensil, Chief Customer Experience Officer at FSA, shared her insights with DigitalGov University in a July 28, 2015, webinar about the establishment of the FSA CX Team.

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Challenge Module 2: It’s All About the Teams—The Importance of Operational Incentives in Prizes

A strong incentive is the lifeblood of solving any challenge. That’s the message experts offered August 4 as part of a Challenge.gov webinar series on running successful federal competitions. Sam Ortega, manager of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center’s Partnerships Office, and Christopher Frangione, vice president of prize development at the XPRIZE Foundation, shared how government agencies can attract and motivate problem-solving communities to deliver decisive solutions. And while the prize purse matters, both agreed it’s not all that counts.

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DigitalGov Summit Recap: Leveraging Open Analytics

Seven million dollars is a big price tag. That is the amount Forbes predicts organizations will spend on analytics-related initiatives in 2015, according to a recent report. While government agencies may not have big budgets for data analysis, we do have tons of data—survey data, usability data, campaign data—that should be leveraged to drive decisions. This idea was the subject of a panel discussion during the second annual DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit, held in May.

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Challenge Module 1: Prize History, Prize Theory and What Makes a Good Prize

Two powerhouses in the Challenge and Prize community came together at GSA for the first in a seven-part learning series recently. Chris Frangione, Vice President of Prize Development for the XPrize and Alexis Bonnell, Innovation Evangelist at USAID offered insights and background into what makes a great ideation competition, sharing case studies and the history of prizes during the webinar. Frangione kicked off the session with a little background look at the world of competitions and prizes, pointing out that ideation competitions have been around for centuries.

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DigitalGov Summit Recap: How “We, the Techies” Can Effect Change

Who do you need to bring to the table to make a better world? In May, Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States, delivered the keynote address at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. She encouraged attendees to find ways of unlocking potential through collaborations from both within and outside of government. “We have extraordinary teammates across government,” Smith said. “It’s one of the coolest things. I just came here in September from Silicon Valley.

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How the Nationals’ Customer Experience Principles Can Be a Home Run for Agencies

In June, the new Customer Experience Community of Practice (CX-COP) hosted Jonathan Stahl, Executive Director of Ballpark Operations and Guest Experience of the Washington Nationals, to share best practices on how to deliver a great customer experience. Below are four insights he shared. Develop and Share Core Values The Nationals’ core organizational values are excellence, performance and accountability. The core values are posted prominently wherever employees gather, such as break rooms, on the way to the field, and in offices.

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An Introduction to HTTPS, by 18F and DigitalGov University

18F uses HTTPS for everything we make, and the U.S. government is in the process of transitioning to HTTPS everywhere. As part of this effort, we’ve recently partnered with DigitalGov University to produce a two-video series introducing the why’s and how’s of HTTPS. In an Introduction to HTTPS for beginners, we cover what happens when you use the web, how HTTPS helps protect users, and examines why the web (including the U.

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Sharing the Essentials of Animated Gifs for Public Services

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohmyOKPSGPg&w=600] Animated gifs are increasingly found throughout the digital experience of today’s users. They offer a dynamic presentation of information in a format that can be both more performance-effective and cost-effective than standard video or images, making them valuable for federal teams looking to bring their programs to the modern digital space and improve customer satisfaction. To find out how animated gifs can be developed to measurably improve public services, we hosted “Essentials of Animated Gifs for Gov” for almost 200 managers in the U.

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Data, Code, and API Event Round Up

DigitalGov University has hosted some great events over the last year in partnership with Data.gov, the MobileGov Community and 18F to bring you information on opening data and building APIs. This month we’ve rounded up the events over the past year so that you can see what’s been offered. Use the comments below to offer up suggestions on what else you’d like to see on the schedule.

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Getting to Yes: Working with Vendors to Secure Terms of Service and Federal Friendly Pricing

The federal government is one of the largest consumers of products and services in the United States. Yet, many agencies face tight budgets and firm guidelines that restrict the parameters under which agencies can use a product or service to complete projects. This presents an interesting opportunity and dilemma for agencies who want to procure new digital tools to complete their projects. Dilemmas There are strict guidelines that govern the contracts and legal agreements into which the federal government can enter in order to use a tool or service.

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Training Trends in 2014

In recent years, DigitalGov University (DGU) has evolved from a prescriptive training program to a more agile program looking to federal government leaders like you to share the innovations, tools, resources, hurdles and case studies of how you work to meet the digital expectations of the 21st century citizen customer better. Whew. That’s a mouthful. Thanks to all the participation from you, across many agencies, we’ve hosted over 100 events this past year with over 8,000 attendees.

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How to Run an Agile Project in Government

For a seminar organized by DigitalGov University, Robert Read, the Managing Director at 18F, gave a presentation on agile methodologies in the federal government. Risk mitigation is a big advantage of using the agile methodology. The methodology deals with risk through the use of multiple iterations or “sprints” that ultimately lead to the development of a better product. “Sprints” involve the release of software that is functional and will allow for testing.

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Challenge & Prize Competition Round-Up

We’ve had an excellent year of training and community events for the federal challenge and prize community, so for the month of December DigitalGov University has taken a look at the events we’ve hosted this year and rounded them up in line with this month’s Crowdsourcing theme. On Wednesday, December 10, the Challenge and Prize Community of Practice hosted its quarterly in-person meeting to highlight the roles and responsibilities that Challenge.

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Data.gov’s Data Pipeline Explained

In case you missed it: the Data.gov team recently hosted DigitalGov University webinars designed to help agencies and open data advocates better understand how to get data on Data.gov and how to implement the Open Data Policy’s metadata schema updates. These webinars were designed assist government data publishers in making more data discoverable to the American people. You can watch these webinars and check out additional supplemental resources below.

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Usability Events Round-Up: 2014

This past year DigitalGov University has hosted at least one Usability event per month and we thought we’d give you a round-up of those events. After all, November 13th was World Usability Day. Since this year’s theme of World Usability Day is Engagement it would be great to take a look at the event recap article, Improving the User Experience with Usability.gov. The folks at Usability.gov took a user-centered approach to refresh their site and make the design more engaging.

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CFPB’s IdeaBox: an Open-Source Internal Ideation Platform

IdeaBox is an application that helps an organization collect ideas, organize them, and solicit comments and votes on the ideas. Do you want to build an innovation program at your organization? Learn how you can leverage resources from IdeaBox, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s initiative to generate, incubate, and implement great ideas from employees across the agency by watching the recent DigitalGov University webinar. Your organization can take advantage of the CFPB’s: Open-source (FREE!

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Open and Structured Content Models Workshop Recap

People consume government information in a variety of ways: through agency websites, of course, but increasingly through social media, search engines, and mobile apps, whether developed by agencies or third parties. To make sure the information is available seamlessly, accurately, and consistently from one setting to another, more and more agencies are exploring the use of content models. Content models create a structure to tag content in a standardized way and free it from any single format or destination, such as a Web page or PDF file.

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Responsive Web Design Challenges Webinar Recap

A website redesign is never an easy task, but when responsiveness is one of your redesign’s key goals, special considerations come into play that can present unique challenges. In the September webinar on Responsive Web Design Challenges in Government, we heard from two agencies who identified coordination, leadership buy-in and content decisions when mobilizing their websites. Marissa Newhall, acting director of the Office of Digital Strategy and Communications at the Department of Energy (DOE), shared the reasons for going responsive with the energy.

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Secrets to a Dynamite Public Sector Analytics Program

Uncovering meaningful analytics from months or years of Web metrics is daunting, at best. So how do you make great Web improvements using metrics? Whether you’re just getting started in Web analytics or you want to take your program to the next level, you should focus on accurate data, customer service, and concrete goals, said Sam Bronson, Web Analytics Program Manager at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a Sept.

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Recap of Social Digital Search Webinar

Content is no longer limited to .gov sites. As mentioned in a recent blog post, Sharing is Caring, Adding Social Media Accounts to Search, DigitalGov Search uses Flickr, Instagram, and YouTube to populate image and video search results. On September 30, 2014, I presented with Justin Herman from the Social Media Community of Practice about: What DigitalGov Search is How it integrates social image and video search How search analytics can help social media managers better understand their customers’ needs If you weren’t able to join us, you can download the slides or view the 30 minute webinar on YouTube.

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Advice from USAID on Prize Competition Communication Strategies

A well-developed communications plan is critical to the success of a challenge competition, but too often it is one item managers leave to consider at the end of prize design. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Jarah Meador shared the Desal Prize plan and results in the September 16 webinar, “Why Your Gov Prize Competition Needs a Communications Strategy.” Consider the following advice and insight for help with planning your own challenge.

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To Learn About reddit, Listen First

Reddit began in 2006 as an online bulletin board. Registered users post links to items on the Internet, start discussions and cast votes that control placement on the site. A simple structure and a live interview forum called AMA, (Ask Me Anything) helped make reddit a social media superstar. GSA has met with reddit to talk about the importance of federal-compatible Terms of Service. (Reddit prefers to work with each agency individually on a TOS amendment rather than creating a single universal TOS agreement.

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Open Source Content Management Systems and Responsive Web Design Webinar Recap

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?

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Paper Prototyping PTSD Coach

The PTSD Coach mobile app from the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides veterans and users with information about PTSD and professional care, along with self-assessment tools and aid in finding support opportunities. The app has been downloaded over 100,000 times in 74 countries around the world, received numerous accolades and has spawned versions in both Australia and Canada. Designed for users that are both in treatment and not, this application is a poster-child for the benefits of user testing and paper prototyping.

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Top 5 Reasons to Use Government-wide Open and Structured Content Models

Content models provide an opportunity for agencies to structure, organize, distribute, and better publish information in multiple forms and on multiple platforms. Federal agencies discussed why content models are important for future-facing content in our What Structured Content Models Can Do For You Webinars in May and June. The point—with good content models, a single piece of Web content becomes an adaptive information asset that can be leveraged anytime, anywhere.

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White House SocialGov Summit Aims to Improve Open Data Innovation

More than 100 digital engagement and open data managers from across government met with leaders in the private sector startup community August 7 at the White House for a summit on integrating our digital services with public participation to create more opportunities for innovation and tackle tougher challenges. The SocialGov Summit on Open Data Innovation was organized by the 700-member SocialGov Community and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, launching a new inter-community initiative to apply combined open data, digital engagement, and innovative technologies to fields ranging from the Internet of Things and emergency management to modernization of the regulatory process.

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Challenge, Contract or Grant – Which tool is right for the job?

Choosing between a contract, a grant, or a public prize competition to get solutions to the problems your agency faces is a difficult task. Each is a tool that has different qualities and each might be the best choice for varying situations. Sam Ortega, the manager of the Centennial Challenges program at NASA, spoke about the subject recently on a DigitalGov University webinar. Being the head of a large federal public prize program, he had a lot to say about the benefits of crowdsourcing innovation through prizes.

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“Deconstructing” Public Prize Competitions Can Result in Better Solutions

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.

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Working with APIs for Non-Coders Recap

In a recent event titled: “Intro to APIs: Working with URLs, JSON, APIs, and Open Data—Without Writing Any Code,” federal practitioners and supporters interested in open data attended an in-person workshop, led by Eric Mill, a key developer on GSA’s 18f team. This event was especially targeted to non-developers and explored the basics of APIs, using the Congress API, offered by the Sunlight Foundation, as an example. The purpose of the event was to showcase that anybody of any skill level can understand and use APIs without any coding knowledge!

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Case Studies in Thunderclap

Now that Thunderclap has been approved for government use for nearly a year, we checked in with two agencies that have successfully used the crowd-speaking tool to rally their supporters and amplify their messages. In case you missed it, you can replay the webinar. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuACkq02GVw&w=600] What Makes a Thunderclap? Nicholas Garlow, public affairs specialist with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) used Thunderclap to support Open Enrollment Season for Healthcare.

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Search Engine Optimization for Government Websites

On June 10, 2014, the Metrics Community of Practice of the Federal Web Managers Council and DigitalGov University hosted an event to honor the memory of Joe Pagano, a former co-chair of the Web Metrics Sub-Council. This third lecture honoring Joe focused on search engine optimization (SEO). While commercial search engines do a remarkable job of helping the public find our government information, as Web professionals, it’s also our job to help the public make sense of what they find.

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Challenge and Prize Practitioners Gather at GSA

Got innovation? Well, we do! On Wednesday May 28, the Challenge.gov team gathered the Challenges and Prizes Community of Practice together for its quarterly meeting. The group covered two topics: Highlights from challenge competitions run in 2013. Concepts and tips for working with solvers to build teams. Cristin Dorgelo, Assistant Director for Grand Challenges at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, shared the results of a recent report on challenge and prize competitions conducted under America COMPETES Act Authority.

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What Structured Content Can Do For You: Webinar Recap

Structured content and open content models can help you create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent. This was the theme of the “What Structured Content Can Do For You: Article Model” webinar last month. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG25vyQ5Jps&w=600] Using a content model is less about how you are crafting your message and more about how the internet is going to react to your content or how you can manipulate it, according to Holly Irving from the National Institutes of Health, Russell O’Neill from the General Services Administration, and Logan Powell from U.

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Overcoming Barriers—DigitalGov Summit Recap

As government innovators, we work to improve public services every day. In essence we are already in a public private partnership. But how can your agency capitalize on existing public private partnerships to engage citizens and enhance services? Four panelists from across government shared their public private partnerships success stories at the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday. The three other panels were on performance analysis, customer service across channels, and inter-agency work.

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The Importance of Cross-Channel Customer Service—DigitalGov Summit Recap

During the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, customer service experts from across government came together on a panel to share what customer service means to them and their organization and specific ways they leverage it. The other panels were on performance analysis, public private partnerships, and inter-agency work. The panelists spoke about the strategies they use to integrate multi-channel customer service and the organizational barriers they’ve encountered. The panelists acknowledged that while the the government, as a whole, has room for improvement in providing truly integrated cross-channel customer service, leadership is beginning to recognize the importance and cost-savings, not to mention happy customers, it brings.

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Evaluating Digital Communication: An International Incident

Are you measuring Twitter followers and press release downloads without any clue as to what people are doing with your agency’s products and information? Or do you not even know what to measure, never mind whether that measurement would be meaningful? Fear not, fair government communicator—there is hope! On May 15, top government communication measurement experts from the U.S., U.K., and Canada presented on Evaluating the Effectiveness of Government Digital Communications via DigitalGov University.

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Harnessing the Power of Many—DigitalGov Summit Recap

At the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, Jacob Parcell, Manager, Mobile Programs at the General Services Administration led a panel on the challenges and benefits of Inter-Agency work. The other panels were on performance analysis, customer service across channels, and public private partnerships. “The challenges are real,” said Parcell, who quoted President Obama’s famous salmon quandary: “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater,” Obama said.

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Turning Data Into Action—DigitalGov Summit Recap

At the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, more than 200 innovators across government and industry came together to share how digital services can improve citizen services and reduce cost. Four panels convened to share information on performance analysis, customer service across channels, public private partnerships and inter-agency work. We have a recap of the Performance Analysis Panel below. How do you show and track performance in 21st century digital government?

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DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit a Success

We had a GREAT DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit today. There were more than 200 digital innovators from across government and industry working to build the 21st century government the public expects. The four panels focused on performance analysis, customer service across channels, inter-agency work, and public private partnerships. Here’s what you missed in a short highlight video. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIWwnomPxo4&w=600]

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Inter-Agency Federal Social Media Promotes Women’s Health Campaign

Last week, we discussed National Women’s Health Week (NWHW) as an example of a coordinated campaign that used digital tools. Social media has made building campaigns easier by enabling us to quickly reach out to groups with similar missions as well as to engage with citizens. Here are the highlights from the webinar and some initial metrics, and in case you missed it, you can replay the webinar here.

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Designing in the Open Training Recap

During the recent redesign of Data.gov, the team developed a process that helped them respond to public feedback, track the actions and hold themselves accountable. In a DigitalGov University webinar, “Designing in the Open—Public Participation in Government Web Design,” Phil Ashlock, chief architect at Data.gov, and Jeanne Holm, Data.gov evangelist, shared how integrating feedback from virtual, online and face-to-face testing, as well as across multiple social media platforms, helped dramatically change the design in the response to the needs of their users.

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In Crowdsourcing Competitions, Defining the Problem is Half the Battle

After leading a complex effort to crowdsource ideas to solve a problem facing your agency, the last thing you want to hear is that the innovative solutions you received don’t actually help remedy the issue. More than 20 federal innovators recently took part in a workshop offered to avoid such a scenario. The Department of Homeland Security’s Meredith Lee, who also serves as the volunteer lead for the Federal Ideation Community of Practice (ICOP), led the participants through various exercises to help agencies learn to identify and define the problems they face; a key part of the process of any ideation exercise and/or challenge competition.

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Search Is the New Big Data Recap

Search is easy, right? You type a term in a search box and the exact page you’re looking for appears at the top of the list of results. But search is hard and has many shades of grey. On April 10, 2014, Loren Siebert, our DigitalGov Search senior search architect, presented on: Complexities of recall and precision, Popular open source search technologies, and “Search magic” like stemming, synonyms, fuzziness, and stopwords.

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Measuring User Experience: A Few Tips

With a calculated process, the right tools, and a staff willing to make it work, you can measure user experience (UX) on your websites and implement usability changes that show results. In a recent DigitalGov University webinar entitled “Measuring User Experience”, UX supporters and practitioners heard from Achaia Walton, Senior Digital Analyst at the Department of Health and Human Services, about finding what critical things to measure to make websites more user-friendly.

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Why Go Responsive? Here’s What Feds Are Saying

Responsive Web design implementations in the federal government have members of the Mobile Gov Community of Practice asking what is responsive Web design and how do we do it? In February, the Mobile Gov Community of Practice hosted a workshop with more than 40 feds from 19 agencies to answer these questions. This article is the first in a series of articles and events to highlight what we learned at the workshop and explore related topics agencies need to consider when implementing this technology.

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Crowdsource Ideas with New Competition Platform

Federal agencies now have the ability to create a challenge competition website that accepts submissions and allows public voting with a new, no-cost tool. The Challenge.gov team unveiled and demonstrated the capabilities of GSA’s new crowdsourcing and prize competition platform, Challenge.sites.usa.gov on a DigitalGov University webinar. The platform is now available for any federal employee to log in and explore its functionality (just be careful not to publish anything not intended to be public).

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GitHub for Government Recap

As the definition of “developer” has grown and expanded, GitHub has become a place where anyone can do simple collaboration. It’s a free social network that tracks changes to any data, not just code, where stakeholders and developers can work on the same data simultaneously. Project Open Data, a cross-agency initiative developed by the White House, that looks at how to manage information as an asset in the 21st century, is powered by GitHub.

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Tumblr: A Flexible Social Media Platform

When HHS’s Katie Gorscak was looking for a way to share Stopbullying.gov’s information with teenagers, she looked at her options on social media. New reports seem to come out regularly talking about how teens are fleeing “traditional” social media sites, but Gorscak knew her target audience made up the power user base of the social-blogging platform Tumblr. Tumblr combines parts of traditional blogging with added social sharing features to help agencies meet their missions, drive engagement and increase brand recognition.

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Lights, Camera, Action! 7 Tips to Run a Successful Video Challenge

Not sure how to craft a video challenge that will result in the creative solutions your agency is looking for? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Jason Crusan from NASA and Tammi Marcoullier from Challenge.gov joined a recent DigitalGov University webinar to share best practices and hurdles in running video competitions. We’ve recapped their advice and key takeaways here: Video challenges are a great way to engage the public around a visual story.

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State of the #SocialGov 2014

If the silos and barriers that separated our programs are smashed, what could we do to realize the full potential of innovation in public service? Whether you’re a citizen who needs better access to services, an entrepreneur looking to spark innovation in the marketplace, or a public servant who wants to get your mission done more effectively and efficiently — there have never been more opportunities to achieve these through social media in government.

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Always Future Ready: The Benefits of Open Content Models and Structured Data Webinar

“Future-ready content,” “responsive design,” “create once, publish everywhere” are all buzzwords you hear when talking about the present and future of Web publishing. But how do we get there? We all know that technology is only part of the answer. Open content models and structured data are a big part of the answer. Lakshmi Grama, Senior Digital Strategist in the Office of Communications and Education at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) discusses what structured content and open content models can do to help government agencies create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent in this November, 2013 webinar.

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Mobile First

Mobile First is the idea that web sites should first be designed for mobile devices, including only those tasks/items that website visitors use most. Then as screen real estate increases, add in tasks/features as needed based on user priority. This means the site will work (to some degree) on that shiny new web-enabled gizmo sitting under your neighbor’s Christmas tree 4 years from now. Allows websites to reach more people (77% of the world’s population has a mobile device, 85% of phones sold in 2011 equipped with browser) Forces designers to focus on core content and functionality (What do you do when you lose 80% of your screen real estate?

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We the People API

“APIs for WhiteHouse.gov? What in the heck does that mean?” Like President Obama, you may be asking the same question. DigitalGov University set out to answer that question during its API Standards from the White House webinar with Leigh Heyman and Bryan Hirsch, from the White House Office of Digital Strategy. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bJo6zii7lw&w=600] After launching the We The People petition site, citizens using the tool were asking how they could improve their own engagement levels on the petitions and wanted to look at the data.

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Mobile First Webinar Recap

Federal agency mobile implementation is an important aspect of the Digital Government Strategy, so last week the Mobile Gov team and Digital Gov University partnered for a “Mobile First” Webinar. A “mobile first” approach is where new websites and applications are designed for mobile devices first, instead of designed for the traditional desktop. Representatives from government and the private sector spoke about what it means to be “mobile first.” You can view the entire webinar below, but here are some highlights:

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Introduction to APIs

There’s an easier way to get content and data into the hands of citizens. 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.” To help agencies better understand APIs, DigitalGov University hosted a webinar, An Introduction to APIs, with experts from NASA and CDC.

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Mobile Webinar Series Recap: Responsive Design

Some agencies are turning to responsive design to support device-agnostic content delivery which was called for in the recently released Digital Innovation Strategy. Last week, GSA’s Mobile Program Management Office held a responsive design webinar in conjunction with DigitalGov University outlining agency experiences with responsive design. Agency experts covered responsive design technical approaches and strategy and you can listen to the whole webinar below. One topic interesting to listeners was why agencies decided to implement responsive design.

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RIM/Blackberry Mobile Development Webinar Recap

The Mobile Platform Development Series was developed to help government agencies learn how to deliver government content–information, data and services–anytime, anywhere and on any device. One way to deliver content to citizens is via applications on mobile devices or native mobile apps. Government agencies need technical expertise on developing apps on the various platforms. Today we bring you a recap of the Blackberry webinar from this series. The Blackberry webinar featured Richard Balsewich who provides application development guidance and technical architecture expertise for RIM/Blackberry.

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