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Top 5 trends in municipal web design

By Rebecca Christoforidis and Karthikeyan Kumaran
Published February 22, 2023

What is the purpose of a municipal website?

It’s to inform, engage and serve the residents of the community. It does this effectively by being flexible, targeted, unique, accessible, inclusive and interactive.

But it’s a slave to technology, and technology changes. Fast. To stay relevant, you need to be aware.

There are certain noticeable trends that are taking place among municipal websites that have significant impact on their effectiveness. Here is a closer look at some of those trends.

1. Content-centered layout

It starts with a content management system (CMS) that makes it easy for staff to create customized page layouts to fit best with content, ensuring it is actionable and user-friendly.

Use your full suite of tools available (easy, simple, and precise) to you in your CMS helps in diversifying your content and make it accessible for your audiences to skim or read and guide users to other pages on your website that may interest them.

2. Citizen-focused web design and navigation

Citizens these days are used to a very smooth online browsing experience. The private sector is constantly re-evaluating how to get consumers to use their products or services, and thus has raised the bar when developing websites and delivering online services.

Starting with your site's information architecture, strong municipal websites apply a "service" lens to every decision. Instead of a departmental directory-focused sitemap, service-oriented websites begin by first identifying who the users are, and why they have come to the site.

The focus of a service-first website offers intuitive navigation, easy searchability, top user tasks, calls-to-action and visual links that grab users' attention and guide them to the information or services that they're looking for.

Stand out without standing in the way

Visual web design is an ever-changing spectrum. It can seem like it changes with the seasons, but there are some hard and fast truths that strong municipal sites share. They help the brand's visual identity stand out consistently throughout the browsing experience, without distracting from the main goals of users.

Homepages feature links to the most commonly sought-after pages; services are emphasized, recent news items and upcoming events are integrated, icons complement written labels, and visual banners are used as a supportive tool to highlight important information.

3. Excellence in usability, responsiveness and accessibility

Today's users want to do more online. Whether that stems from the pandemic, sheer convenience, or a mixture of both, it's simply easier to complete tasks online than in-person. Engaging municipal sites are finding more ways than ever to bring services to the citizens because that's where they are going first.

As Statista shares, the percentage of website traffic from mobile users has grown from 31% in 2015 to 55 % in 2021, and steadily increasing. The ability to access information and complete tasks online anywhere and at any time has changed the game for private businesses and the public sector alike.

Having a website that is responsive across all mobile devices and screen sizes is now more important than ever, considering more than half of all users use mobile to browse content.

4. Prioritized diversity and inclusion

Along with ensuring compliance with web accessibility, legislation and best practices, strongly designed municipal websites prioritize a sense of diversity and inclusion, and faithfully reflect the community within their content.

Entrenching this inclusive approach to web content creation and functionality helps create trust and confidence within citizens, helping them resonate to the brand on a meaningful level.

5. Dedicated spaces and tools for two-way citizen engagement

Last, but certainly not least, is the importance of offering multiple opportunities for citizens to get engaged and provide input. The archaic method of a municipality issuing orders from above, with the people acting as one-way recipients of the message, is no longer used.

Some of the components include things like:

  • Interactive forms
  • Polling functionality
  • Chatbots
  • Citizen engagement platforms
  • Video conferencing technologies

The combination of a strong integrated website, self-service portal, and digital communications are key for an engaging municipal web design. Learn more about how to transform your website into a more responsive, intuitive and engaging one with GovStack. Schedule a demo today!