Is your municipal website a destination that engages your entire community?

How does your community’s website stack up to other online destinations that people visit regularly? Is it easy for them to find what they’re looking for? Does it encourage tourism by showcasing what your community has to offer? Is there a range of self-service options?

An improved online experience makes good business sense.

Even with growing pressure on budgets, significant efficiencies and increased services can be gained with an effective web channel. As well, a solid website strategy is critical for moving towards an open government model. Those who recognize the importance of having an effective web channel are a step ahead.

Intelliware has compiled a list of best practices for municipalities looking to offer more to their communities.

1. Self service.

Cut your customer service overhead while improving services. By implementing easy-to-use online services, your community can be served 24/7/365 at a lower cost. Examples include: printing application forms at home, making a change of address, or reporting a street light outage.

2. Accessibility.

Removing barriers for people with disabilities is not only important, it’s the law. Public sector websites need to be AODA compliant – this means offering text alternatives and making your site readable, keyboard accessible and compatible with assistive technology.

Kindergarden Teacher

3. Mobile.

22 million Canadians have a mobile device1. Offering anytime, anywhere access to your website is no longer optional. A mobile strategy should not be an afterthought. A well thought-out plan will ensure you can control costs while delivering the highest value to the most people. For example, what are the benefits and pitfalls of offering a mobile optimized website versus native apps?

1. comScore 2012

4. Social media.

Social media is growing as a critical communication channel between consumers and businesses. Giving people an alternate form of communication on their terms is an important step towards engaging your community and achieving a more open government structure. Integrating social media with your website sends a strong, positive message that you’re willing to engage in two-way dialogue with your constituents.


City Bus

5. Usability.

Offering a website that’s easy to navigate to find information can be complicated. If you get it wrong, visitors get frustrated and may never return. But getting it right leads to greater engagement, stronger satisfaction, higher productivity and reduced service calls.


6. High-impact design.

Encourage people to visit you – both online and in person. Your site should make a great first impression to drive tourism dollars. Showcase all your community has to offer through captivating overall design, clear communications as well as high-impact images.


7. e-Commerce and m-Commerce.

People demand service 24/7/365. Electronic payments enable municipalities to provide higher quality service at a lower cost. Examples include: paying property taxes, hydro bills, licenses and registration fees.


8. Metrics.

Personal opinion shouldn’t be the driver in influencing design and future iterations of your website. Instead, keep metrics and analytics in mind as you build your site. This enables you to understand what’s working and where you can improve.


9. Navigation.

Clear navigation is the backbone of an effective website. Presenting content in a meaningful way must be balanced with displaying it in a visually appealing manner – all while maintaining a seamless user experience. Another thing to consider is the audience that will be visiting your municipal website. You need think about how to handle different backgrounds, ages, and abilities.


10. Brand and content consistency.

Having a clear identity is important when promoting your municipality’s economic, cultural or historical value. In addition, frequent content updates and changes in functionality may have led to your website evolving inconsistently over time. When considering your website redesign, it’s important to review content to avoid duplication. And, most of all, ensure you can keep it up to date without long delays or needing IT resources.


Additional Resources

Intelliware – The Mobile Experience

A recent whitepaper from one of Intelliware’s Mobile architects on the essential considerations for website initiatives. PDF, 9 pages, 1.02 MB

Intelliware – Mobile Usability Guidelines

A recent article from one of Intelliware’s UX designers on mobile usability.

AccessON: A Guide to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation

(Refer to Section 14, page 47 for the policies regarding Information and Communications.)

The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation establishes accessibility standards and introduces requirements for Information and Communications, Employment and Transportation. The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation also establishes the compliance framework for obligated organizations. The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation applies to all public, private and not-for-profit organizations, with at least one employee. PDF, 281 pages, 1.3 MB

ICT Standards Advisory Council of Canada

The ICT Standards Advisory Council of Canada (ISACC) is a partnership between industry and government formed in 1991 by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), Industry Canada (IC) and the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC).

ISACC recommends strategies for domestic and international Information and Communication Technology (ICT) standards development, implementation and promotion, which will meet the needs of Canadian users, industry and government.

Intelliware is a proud member of ISACC.


Municipal Information Systems Association – Ontario Chapter

The Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) is an established Canadian association of municipal government representatives and others interested in the effective use of information technology to provide better and more cost-effective services to municipal taxpayers and clients.

Intelliware is a proud member of MISA – Ontario Chapter.

Instant Web Accessibility Checker – WCAG 2.0 Level AA

Enter the URL of your municipal website and get an instant, customized, free accessibility review based on guidelines for WCAG Level AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). It also refers to specific sections of the guidelines, so the user knows exactly which rules are being broken.