This post was originally published on the USA.gov blog. After our content team moved to a more agile method of working, we also started to look at the metrics we use to measure the success of our work. To help us with that, our analytics team developed a new metric we’re experimenting with called the content efficiency metric. This metric is a key performance indicator (KPI) that we’re hoping can help guide our content decisions.
Joel Minton, a member of the U.S. Digital Service, is working with GSA’s Technology Transformation Service as the director of login.gov. Tom Mills is the Chief Technology Architect at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In early April, the U.S. Digital Service and 18F launched login.gov, a single sign-on solution for government websites that will enable citizens to access public services across agencies with the same username and password. Login.gov is currently in action at the U.
In March, the team of writers and editors at USAGov adopted some agile principles in an attempt to streamline our content development process. We hoped operating in a more agile manner would help us address some of the challenges we were facing as a team: Being asked to support many new projects Competing priorities Bottlenecks and silos It was a big change in the way we work. Our previous model had been based on a newsroom-style operation where people were clustered together around specific areas of content or “beats” to use the journalism terminology.
As part of USAGov’s efforts to provide our audience with the reliable and quality information that they need, this summer, the Health, Education & Benefits (HE&B) topic desk completed its first content audit. Methodology and Results Data informed every step we took. In order to determine which areas to focus on first, the desk gathered data from four distinct sources: the Contact Center’s usage of our content to answer customers’ inquiries; site analytics; content inventory and review; and website survey comments.
Every first week of every month, USAGov’s marketing team sends an office-wide email newsletter to give an update on past and current marketing efforts and campaigns. It’s how we try to help keep the rest of the office in the know. The monthly newsletter can spur a content idea, a future marketing endeavor, and act as a reminder of what’s coming up that month that contributors need to be aware of.
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.
In April, Facebook made it possible for organizations to use chatbots to send and receive messages from users of Facebook Messenger. That’s a big deal. Facebook Messenger is now used by 900 million people every month. As the name implies, it’s a messaging platform that people use to send short messages to each other through the app. It’s the most popular messaging app in the U.S, and the second most popular of those apps worldwide, behind only WhatsApp (which Facebook also owns).
GobiernoUSA, just like USA.gov, is part of a unique effort with a large mission—to guide people to the government information and services they seek. We cover a lot of topics in Spanish via our website, social media platforms, email sends, and contact center. One of the communication channels we focus a lot of attention on is social media, and we routinely measure how our efforts are going. We focused first on our assumed engagement power hitter – Facebook, to learn more from its Insights analytics data.
Anyone engaged in content marketing or content production probably owns a robust editorial calendar. A calendar that is quickly updated, helps keep deadlines and is flexible can serve as a helpful blueprint of your content activities for the year. At USAGov we cover a lot of topics and partner with many agencies. Having an editorial calendar has helped us in a variety of ways, from staying on top of deadlines and deliverables, to giving us the space to focus on the topics that resonate best with our audiences.
USA.gov’s Analytics Success: using analytics data to inform design and responsivity to create a better experience for the user Last year, the USA.gov team found themselves facing a challenge. We were in need of a new content management system for our websites, USA.gov and Gobierno.USA.gov, which help people find and understand the most frequently requested government information. We wanted to align the content on those websites with content in the knowledge base used by our contact center; up until this point, the information in those two places had been similar but unique.
One year ago this week, we launched vote.gov (also known as vote.usa.gov). It’s a concise and simple site with a single mission: direct citizens through the voter registration process as quickly as possible. It was created by a joint team of USA.gov staffers and Presidential Innovation Fellows, all of whom work within the General Services Administration (GSA). Did it work? Yes. In fact, it worked so well that Facebook made it the destination for their 2016 voter registration drive.
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.
When you want to do a usability test, sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and get creative to get the job done. That’s just what happened to us. We’re well practiced at usability testing at USAGov—in person, remote, hallway tests, first-click tests—all of these things we manage without blinking an eye. But this spring, we tried something new. Our office was planning to make some changes to our IVR script.
USAGov recently released a list of six great federal government mobile apps. There were many apps released by the federal government over the last 5-6 years on a wide range of topics and services. Many are well-designed and useful to the American public. So, what are the outstanding federal government apps for 2016? The Department of State’s Smart Traveler. First launched in 2011, this mobile app helps international travelers find U.
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.
Lately, we have been hearing a lot about microsites—CDC’s Zika Virus microsite provides up-to-date information on the virus—but the big question is: What are they? A microsite is a single or small collections of pages that are meant to encourage user interaction while conveying information. A microsite has the power to educate consumers regarding a specific topic or just highlight a campaign. Microsites are separate from an organization’s full website and are dedicated to serving one purpose—thus eliminating the clutter and distractions that come with a full website.
About a year and a half ago, the Federal Citizen Information Center—today called USAGov—embarked on a very ambitious task: integrating our content operations. We blurred lines that defined silos and adopted a bilingual content approach to offer a more consistent experience, regardless of language preference or point of access to our information. See more about our rebirth. As we were figuring out our new content model, we saw the need to reinvent our style guidelines to reflect our new organization.
Transcreation is a relatively new term that blends the words translation and creation. In a nutshell, transcreation involves taking a concept in one language and completely recreating it in another language. A successfully transcreated message (either written or visual) evokes the same emotions and carries the same implications in the target language as it does in the source language, but in a way that resonates with the target audience. What’s the big deal you may wonder?
Yesterday, we shared our Snapchat account with the public. After weeks of testing the tool to iron out kinks and determine how we’d make content accessible, we were excited to go public when the official government-friendly terms of service were signed. So now you may be asking, why is the U.S. government using Snapchat and what will it be sharing? Here are our top three reasons for using Snapchat.
One of the biggest things we take into account whenever we consider launching on a new social platform is how we can make the information we share through that tool as accessible as possible. In its current form, Snapchat isn’t a highly accessible platform. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to Snapchat. Many emerging technologies are not up to government accessibility standards, which poses a challenge for the innovative agencies that want to adopt them.
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.
They ranked among our top three most popular emails in 2015. At USAGov, we know that email is often our #1 driver of traffic to our content, and nine out of 10 times it’s our go-to outreach tool for disseminating timely information. But doing email sends consistently and effectively isn’t always clear cut, especially when you have a combined 1.3 million subscribers. We send email blasts to our subscriber lists about all sorts of content based on what they signed up to get.
The first phase of our partnership with Facebook included Facebook “megaphones” being rolled out in a handful of states with rapidly approaching voter registration deadlines. Facebook’s megaphone is a featured box that is displayed at the top of all user’s News Feeds. (You may recall seeing these after certain disasters giving users the option to quickly donate to Red Cross or other organizations). We piloted the voter registration megaphone in South Carolina on January 15.
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.
What are your agency’s website visitors looking for? Can they find it easily? How do you know? Search analytics provide valuable data that can positively affect an agency’s Web strategy. This topic was the focus of a recent webinar, Show Me the Data: Leveraging Analytics in DigitalGov Search. Dawn Pointer McCleskey, acting program manager for DigitalGov Search, discussed how agencies can leverage their search to improve the quality of their agency’s website.
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?
The answer may surprise you. It takes time, resources and actual money. Why prepare a video for something that can be written about and released in a shorter timespan at a much lower cost? This question is now the new normal. But are we asking the right question? Consider if the engagement seen on Spanish video content has a bigger payoff than its English counterpart. According to a Nielsen report, the average Hispanic spends more than eight hours viewing online videos every month.
In Design Secrets of the World’s Best e-Government Web Sites, the Asia-Pacific online communications powerhouse FutureGov singles out eight national e-government portals as the best-designed in the world, and identifies the best practices these sites exemplify. “Ultimately, these websites are the best in the world because they are designed to be practical, simple, quick and adaptable,” writes Joshua Chambers, editor of FirstGov Digital. “One core principle stands out above all others: a well-designed government website must make it as easy as possible for citizens to find the information and services that they need.
Are you like me? Do you consistently eat too much on Thanksgiving to avoid invasive family conversations that have a high probability of 1) turning awkward and 2) forcing you to abandon a sworn blood oath to never again reveal details of your private life to loved ones? Don’t be like me. It’s your holiday, too, and there’s no need to sit quietly at the table with a full belly and sweating.
Bob goes to a popular federal government site, using his assistive technology, and starts reading a teaser for an article. Just below the teaser, there’s an embedded video on the page. He presses the tab key, trying to navigate to a link for the full article, but suddenly he’s trapped—he can’t tab past the video. He’s stuck, and he can’t access the content. Frustrated, Bob leaves the site.
You might have noticed a lot of people were talking about the elections yesterday, especially on social media. Election and voting hashtags were trending all day long as people around the country hit the polls to vote for senators, representatives, governors and more. And while plenty of people were really excited to simply let their friends and followers know they had cast a ballot, several others had questions about how to find their polling place or the hours it was open.
In the first part of A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Tokens, I explained why we built a social media-driven image search engine, and specifically how we used Elasticsearch to build its first iteration. In this week’s post, I’ll take a deep dive into how we worked to improve relevancy, recall, and the searcher’s experience as a whole. Redefine Recency To solve the scoring problem on older photos for archival photostreams, we decided that after some amount of time, say six weeks, we no longer wanted to keep decaying the relevancy on photos.
Lots of people ask us questions. So it only makes sense for us to partner up to answer some of those questions. Since the 1970’s, USA.gov has partnered with Dear Abby to help get free printed government publications on a variety of topics (health, disaster preparedness, caring for aging loved ones, etc.) into the hands of the people who need them most. While much of the work at USA.
Live Web chat is an important component of good customer service. People like having the option of talking with an agent in real-time without having to pick up the phone. While live chat is not widespread, several agencies have shown great success in serving the public through this alternative channel. At a recent Government Contact Center Council meeting, colleagues from HHS (cancer.gov), Education (StudentAid.gov), and GSA (USA.gov) shared their challenges and successes in implementing and managing Web chat.
While many people tout the death of the home page, it’s still an important piece of the user experience on USA.gov. In 2013, 30% of all sessions on USA.gov included the home page—that’s 8.67 million sessions. The numbers for GobiernoUSA.gov are even higher—79% of all sessions included the home page. According to Jakob Nielsen, “A homepage has two main goals: to give users information, and to provide top-level navigation to additional information inside the site.
You’ve probably noticed the trend toward more visual content being shared across social platforms—pictures, infographics and how-to videos seem to be popping up everywhere. We certainly noticed that trend across several government social media properties, so when USA.gov was preparing to launch our campaign introducing the 2014 Consumer Action Handbook (CAH), we wanted to create highly-visual social content to see how it would do in comparison to standard text and link social content.
Are you looking for the “golden metric” that is the best measure of your agency’s website performance and cross-comparable across .gov websites? If so, stop looking. The concept of the golden metric is a dangerous one because it oversimplifies performance analysis of your website and overlooks the truth hidden behind other, more relevant metrics. Don’t get me wrong—it is easy to fall for the concept of the golden metric.
In our final video interview with Sarah Crane of USA.gov, she talks about adaptive content and how it works with APIs. Missed Part 1 and Part 2? Watch them to find out how USA.gov dealt with their inconsistent customer experience and content sprawl. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giK-RsHjA4c&w=600] Interested in learning more about adaptive content and content modeling? Check out the new Structured Content Models and the training on Event Model Creation. We’ve created an editorial theme calendar to coordinate content each month around one focus.
Part 2 of our interview with Sarah Crane from USA.gov shares how the USA.gov team is tackling content sprawl with the USA.gov API. Missed Part 1 last week? You’ll want to watch it before next Tuesday, when we will publish Part 3 where Sarah talks about adaptive content. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtXsAIoRqb4&w=600]
Next in our video blog series, Sarah Crane from USA.gov shares how multiple product lines have led to an inconsistent customer experience and how new functional teams are helping them become more efficient. And check back next Monday to hear how the team is tackling content sprawl with the USA.gov API. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lObSjX82aBg&w=600]
Most analytics tools can tell you how many times a link on your page is clicked on, but they can’t help you draw conclusions about a page with just a mere list of top links. A tool called a heatmap turns data into a data visualization, so you can more easily see how people are interacting with the design. With it, you can find out some really important stuff: if the page design plays a part in clickthroughs, where on the page your users are moving, and what on your page might be worth featuring/not featuring.
[ ](https://s3.amazonaws.com/digitalgov/_legacy-img/2014/03/Birthday-Cake_Internet_World-Wide-Web_25-years-old_Featured_301x212.jpg) With the 25th anniversary of the Web, we wanted to share stories from the beginnings of Web in the federal government and how online government has evolved in the years since. The State Department may have been one of the first, in 1991, with a bulletin board presence launched thru the Government Printing Office, according to Janice Clark, Director in the Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs.
You can now log in to Go.USA.gov with your username or email address, one of the new improvements added to the government URL shortener. Previously you could only log in with your username. You can now: Log in with your username or email address Search your short URLs Add notes to short URLs Shorten URLs from your browser with the bookmarklet Download improved CSV exports Use the API to get all short URLs from your account Learn about the new features, other minor changes, and known issues.
USA.gov offers two different types of URL shorteners – 1.USA.gov and Go.USA.gov. No matter which URL shortener you use, there are some usability, accessibility, and SEO issues you should keep in mind. 1.USA.gov 1.USA.gov is powered by bitly.com and open to everyone. If you go to bitly.com and shorten a .gov or .mil URL, you will get a 1.USA.gov short URL. This is a free service and you do not need to register for an account.
A few weeks ago, the Go.USA.gov URL shortener introduced several new features to improve the user experience. Go.USA.gov now offers users faster speeds and downloadable metric information about their links. The service, which launched in 2009, gives government agencies the ability to provide trustworthy shortened links to their audience. Just a few weeks ago, we finished completely re-engineering the back-end of the site to fix the slow speeds. Additionally, the back-end improvements have allowed us to re-enable the CSV export function that was taken offline back in 2010.
There has been a shift in consumer behavior during the last few years, a move toward immediacy and convenience, and with the responsive redesign of USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov, consumers can now have access to the same information and services when they need them, and on any platform and device. The number of mobile users is growing rapidly. In 2012 USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov received more than 2.5 million visits from mobile devices, not including tablets.
USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov have been engaging with the public on social media long before Mayor Cory Booker underscored the need at this year’s SXSW. In January 2010, we began to respond to questions and comments on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We never advertised the service, but people naturally had questions for the government and we answered — to the tune of more than 300 questions in 2010. Not long after we started answering questions, it became clear that our two-person pilot program wasn’t robust enough to keep up with demand, so we instituted a more formal, but flexible system.
Responsive Web design refers to a fluidly constructed Web page layout that scales from handheld device displays to large, high-resolution computer displays using flexible typography, flexible images, fluid grids, and CSS3 media queries. For years, most Web teams designed for the desktop. Branding, navigation, work flows – the overall look & feel of online applications – were all considered reasonable areas to distinguish one’s online presence from others. Things have changed so dramatically over the past few years that starting with the desktop may now be the backwards way of creating a web site.
Kids and adults use Web search tools differently. Kids fail more often, because they often don’t have enough knowledge or experience to search using the right keywords, or understand search results. If you’re designing websites for kids, remember that they use search tools differently than adults. Kids prefer surfing over searching. If kids can’t easily find what they want, they will likely: Miss important content Become frustrated Leave your website and not come back Help Kids Search Successfully If you’re thinking about putting a customized search engine just for kids on your site, you should understand how kids use search engines.