Skip to main content Skip to footer

← Back to resources


Web design tips to engage your residents

By Madeline Weber
Published April 10, 2023

Imagine your friend has told you of a great community trail that leads to a waterfall. While on the walk with your dog, you’ve decided to explore it. You come to a fork in the path – but detect no trail signs anywhere. You let your dog lead the way because you have no clue where either path will take you. Much to your dismay, the path your dog chooses just leads you back to the start of the trail – and now you’ve come full circle.

Had the two paths been labelled with trail markings showing the waterfall and trail loop symbols, you would have found that beautiful waterfall in no time.

Your website is kind of like a National Park with hundreds of trails to explore. To help your residents navigate the digital wild, you must design your roadmap with unique web designs that landmark where to find specific information and services. An effective municipal web design helps your residents get to their destination with ease. The faster the search journey, the better their engagement and user experience of your website will be.

Here are a few helpful web design tips so you can keep your residents coming back to your site.

Design with variation

The best approach for creating engaging web designs is by adding variety. This way you can provide multiple avenues for your residents to find information, based on their needs and search habits. Some residents may be more engaged with images or icons, others may prefer a directory or menu list. By supporting multiple navigation routes with your designs, you will be creating an inclusive user experience that helps more residents become engaged with your website.

Leverage your search bar

Did you know up to 30% of users will use the site search box when it is offered? Most often, municipal websites house hundreds, if not thousands of web pages on their website. Instead of taking your residence down an endless rabbit hole, put them in control right from the start with a search bar. For the best results, make sure your search bar is prominently featured on your homepage so residents can find it in the first five seconds of their visit.

Landmark services with icons

Like markers on a walking trail, you can incorporate icons and symbols into your web design. Residents often don’t have time to read through your web pages or may not always know which services live within which menu drop-down. Make it easier for them to get where they need to go.

Consider linking the most frequently used services on your homepage in a neat row with recognizable symbols labeled with the service name. For example, use a bus icon that leads to transit, a paper form that links to licenses and permits, a calendar for property taxes or a playground symbol that links to recreation registrations.

Create a service legend

As a quick way to engage residents on your homepage, consider designing a service directory. If your municipality is offering many online services, residents may not be aware of all your service offerings. By designing this type of quick reference legend for your residents, you will lower your customer service calls and make your services stand out with ease. This service directory could also leverage icons and provide a short description of the service for further clarification to help make searching easier.

Use feature boxes with images for quick reference

In most cases, images speak louder than words. Consider designing feature boxes on your homepage that have supporting images and descriptions that link to common services or information. Not only will this offer an alternative way for residents to find information, but it will complement the look and feel of your site.

Highlight new content with dynamic designs

News, social media, and municipal updates require unique designs so that residents can find them easily without having to comb through multiple pages. Here are some web design examples that will grab residents' attention and highlight vital information they will not want to miss:

  • Use alert banners to promote important messages on the top of your webpages
  • Use full size sliding banners with images that promote community events
  • Embed an events calendar on your homepage as a quick reference
  • Integrate social media into your webpages

Design to comply with accessibility standards

By building a website to comply with the WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards, your municipality will provide a more inclusive and engaging online user experience for your residents. For example:

  • Design with proper color contrasts for your background color, text and images
  • Avoid crowding content and designs and use more white space so information is easier to digest
  • Make sure hyperlinks are obvious to the reader by using two stylistic differences from the regular text

Use images that add value

Residents will become more engaged with your municipal website if the images support the content on the web page. For example, if the main banner image of a web page displays a photo of a local trail yet the page is about applying for a permit, residents may be more confused and wonder if they are on the right page.

Another terrific way to add value to your images is by requesting photography from your residents to promote throughout your website. This will lead to a stronger sense of community and showcase the unique people and places in your community.

Use designs that encourage public engagement

Besides using design to help residents find information, build your website with interactive designs that allow residents to interact with your website. Consider using:

  • Buttons or call out boxes that provide clear calls to actions
  • Online forms that allow residents to complete online services
  • Polls and surveys that give residents a straightforward way to provide feedback

Showcase your community’s brand

Your residents will be more engaged with your website if they are familiar with your website. Consider adding unique visual design elements that represent your community brand. This will add familiarity to online presence, so residents trust they are in the right place.

Ready to increase your residents’ engagement on your website? Learn how Govstack CMS provides the right tools for you to create the best user experience for your residents. Get started