Monday, June 15, 2009

Absorbing comments on the new

In the process of developing a new design for the state government portal, we spent many months analyzing how the citizens and businesses of Utah were using our site and our services. We have done this each time we have made significant changes to the portal with several objectives in mind.
  1. Increasing utilization. We want as many people as possible using the website. That is why we want it to remain alive and vibrant. We want citizens to realize that when they come back, they will find something new. We wanted a portal that will remain in people's memory. There is much competition for attention on today's internet and we believe that offers something important for our citizens. By 2007, we had plateaued at about 800,000 users so we made a lot of enhancements. We noticed a significant growth in users in 2008 as a result as our average unique users climbed to just over a million. Our growth seems to have leveled at around a million unique users on average. We hope that the new portal and many new services introduced in 2008-09 will generate enough interest to increase the number of online users.
  2. More efficient government. As use in the portal grows, we have observed commensurate growth in the use of our online services. As adoption of online services grow, the average cost of providing that service drops. We have been able to document and demonstrate that repeatedly over time. Many services on are approaching 80-100% adoption rates. Utah now has over 860 online services and has been able to make many efficient business process changes as a result. We want them discoverable from the portal. Long lists of services no longer suffice.
  3. Usability. We want all citizens to use and appreciate their state portal. We have long included an assessment of user communities in the process of building our portal. Through analytics, we observed that 97% of our users had Flash installed when they visited We also noted the growth in bandwidth available to the majority of site visitors. The new site is an attempt to benefit from those changing demographics.
  4. More open government. Utah seeks to be responsive to its citizens. Many of our new features (Data, Multimedia, Connect) have that goal in mind, along with our participation in social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
Based on the vast majority of the feedback we have received, we assume that the changes we have made to have been very well received. We have never received as much response as with the current upgrade. We have already made several changes to the site in response to the feeback such as slowing our Explore Utah carousel, adding a pause component, etc. We have processed the site through several automated accessibility checkers both before and after launch and made a few changes to ensure accessibility for our users.

Perhaps the most challenging comments came from a couple of Wisconsin state developers (I'm assuming they are developers from the nature of their comments) on Paul Taylor's blog. I'm not going to spend a lot of time debating the merits of our approach vs. theirs. I haven't done an assessment of their user base and our site at one time looked a little more like theirs. I can say that we will continue to try to provide the very best digital government product possible to our citizens in Utah.

1 comment:

UtahDiabetes said...

Thanks so much for coming to UDOH and sharing. We are wondering what we can do to be better connected with you/ and increase traffic to

What if we all joined Govloop and joined the Utah Hive group there. I can also create a Utah Public Health group so that UDOH and local health department employees can be better connected and share ideas.

Any other suggestions?