Category: Tech Tips
On Tuesday, the White House held a Q & A about Improving Federal Websites. BUT, there are takeaways and ideas that local governments and state agencies can gain from this discussion (see below the video).
According to the White House Blog:
“For the first time, the federal government has published the list of all .gov domains managed by federal executive branch agencies– all 1759 of them!
Before today, no one – except for the few folks who manage the .gov registry – has had a clear picture of what our federal web space looks like. Now, anyone can see how many different domains and websites agencies manage, what topics they cover, which sites may duplicate or overlap with others, and which sites are no longer being actively maintained. As part of President Obama’s Executive Order on Customer Service and Campaign to Cut Waste, we can identify and consolidate unnecessary websites, saving money and providing better service to the American public.” (source: from the blog post, “Campaign to Cut Waste: .gov Effort to Improve Federal Websites” by Sheila Campbell)
“White House Director of Digital Strategy Macon Phillips, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and Director of the GSA’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government Sheila Campbell discuss ways to improve the online experience with Federal websites and the campaign to reduce the number of excess and duplicative government websites.”
(if you can’t see the video for some reason, try it directly on the White House’s website)
Some ideas and takeaways for local governments to consider:
- Be prepared for making your site mobile-ready
- Include search capability for the site (have a search-bar).
- Check website analytics… don’t pour money into pages that don’t get visits.
- Multiple domain names from one government mean that you’re competing with yourself for search engine results.
- Make sure that top tasks are featured prominently on the homepage.
- Find (and delete) duplicated content.
- Collaborate with content creators (those who will be contributing to the government website).
- HowTo.gov shares best practices with federal, state, and local web managers.
According to their website, “HowTo.gov is for anyone who manages or supports (directly or indirectly) a government customer service channel. This includes anyone who manages a government website or call center; communicates with the public via social media; manages or supports their agency’s IT operations; writes or edits content for web or print publication; or manages customer service operations in any program area.”
Also, “HowTo.gov is a website to help government workers deliver a better customer experience to citizens. It’s about sharing new ideas, common challenges, lessons learned, and successes across government. HowTo.gov can help you work smarter, whether you’re on the “front lines” of government customer service; you manage a customer service channel; or you support customers through new media, open government, cloud computing, communications, innovation, or in some other way. HowTo.gov provides the tools and ideas you need to effectively serve, engage, and support your customers, no matter how they choose to interact with you.”
They also offer “practices, training, and guidance on:
- Strategic planning and coordinating customer service channels;
- Federal web requirements and policies;
- Cloud computing, apps, data and web infrastructure tools;
- Online citizen engagement through social media and open government;
- Web content management, usability, and design; and
- Contact center services.”
Have any other ideas? Add them to the comments below!
On Friday, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission held a roundtable discussion throughout the day on “Voting Goes Viral. Using New Media to Manage an Election and Communicate with Voters“. The archived video of the webcast is available here.
Their premise going into the day?
There are a multitude of social media sources for information about elections and voting. In this rapidly moving, multi-source environment it is more important than ever that there are official resources about voting that the public can rely upon. (source [PDF])
Here’s some interesting statements that are made in the Agenda and Meeting Information [PDF]
- The voting public increasingly relies on information that is generated and exchanged amongst themselves, about elections, including the basics of how, where and when to vote. Candidates, parties and voting activists have their own strategic uses of social media. Social media outlets are the platforms in which information about elections is being shared and repeated.
- Journalists and election officials share a common goal of informing the public about election procedures and election outcomes, and both groups are using social media to inform the public.
- An important point to make about social media is that it is not a technology; it is a culture. And, yes, it can be scary and unfamiliar to some of us. However, we have to remember our goal – serving voters. They are on Twitter. They use Facebook. And we have a responsibility to go where they are and make sure they have reliable, credible information about exercising their right to vote. Remember, using social media is not about getting a return on your investment; it’s about having conversations with the people you work for. It’s about collaboration, interaction and it is the way business is being done.
- In an era of dynamic changes in voting technologies, increased voter expectations and reduced budgets, journalists and election officials need to find common ground and explore ways to improve the efficiency and effectives of communicating critical election information to the public. A natural tension between these two groups has been speed versus accuracy regarding unofficial election results.
- The social media environment is fast-paced, unforgiving and can be cruel. If you enter it, you will make mistakes, big and small. It’s important to develop a strategy, but also be confident enough to experiment. At the end of the day, election officials should always remember that these efforts are being undertaken on behalf of the public. You want to make sure they have accurate information about how to successfully cast a ballot. Get ahead of rumors and take advantage of this built in early warning system. Get unfiltered feedback, which all true leaders want. It may get weird out there, and it is normal to be scared, confused and excited. But you are helping more people and you are accomplishing your mission.
The archived video of the webcast is viewable here.
Here are some Tweeted insights from the @EACgov Twitter account from throughout the day …
More Information About the Event
Their Agenda included the following sessions:
- Social Media: What Is It?
- Social Media: Who Uses It?
- Journalism and Social Media
- Strategies & Stories from Election Officials
- Chuck Todd — NBC News political director
- Lee Rainie — Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project director
- Chris Chambless—Clay County, Florida, supervisor of elections
- Alysoun McLaughlin — District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics public affairs manager
- Brian Newby — Johnson County, Kansas, election commissioner
- Dana Chisnell — the Usability in Civic Life Project
Also, see techPresident’s post about the event.
I came across this post on TechPresident (by Nancy Scola), which linked to a White House blog post about a Q & A w/ their official videographer, Arun Chaudhary, along with Josh Earnest, the Deputy Press Secretary who narrates each episode of “West Wing Week“.
This is the first time ever that a President has had an official “videographer”.
Here are some of his tips for budding videographers (starting at 37:22 into the video):
- Don’t worry about the camera as much as you worry about the microphone.
- Don’t shoot all the time. If you’re shooting all the time, you’re not looking at what’s going on.
- Shoot shots…. Break down what you’re looking at and shoot it into the establishing and then the what you need to put the scene together. Don’t just have one meandering experience through the whole thing.
- Always be listening.