One of our partners CapTech recently deployed Coveo to deliver a personalized experience on a content-heavy website in the public sector. Their team wrote this guest post to highlight the challenges and best practices they brought to the project, which ultimately made a major difference in the success of the project.
Irrespective of client or industry, search has increasingly become the hub of customer-centric design efforts.
For multiple reasons, offering robust, highly effective search functionality that can be tailored to content and audience is even more critical in the state and local government arena. State and local government agencies are always trying to empower their constituents with information, so search is a core competency to enable quicker visitor success and help provide insight into what their website visitors are looking to accomplish. In this blog, we’ll explore those reasons, drawing on our experiences designing and building websites for a variety of state & local government organizations.
Deal with Big Content.
The sheer volume and variety of content typically found on a government website makes high-powered search a must. Whether in search of an esoteric form, information about the process for obtaining a license, or a web-based means to pay a water bill, citizens visiting government websites are typically confronted with a long and broad list of content and functions. It is important to allow for prioritization of search results based on individual user behaviors, aggregate audience behaviors, and deliver automatic relevance tuning to make an intimidating website project manageable, as well as shield users from frustration that even the best navigation designs can’t prevent. Easily managed facets, promoted items, and scoped searches all increase the likelihood of citizens finding what they need in a matter of seconds as opposed to cursing “the government” before dialing a costly call center or giving up on their venture.
Support diverse user personas.
Similarly, the volume and variety of user personas visiting government websites demands a robust search platform. Whereas a retail company knows customers are searching to purchase a product, the various use cases for citizens visiting a government website vary greatly. For example, we relaunched a website for a state-level alcohol and beverage commission. The website needed to accommodate:
- retail customers in search of liquor
- prospective bar owners wondering how to apply for the proper license
- concerned parents wondering how to ensure that their children don’t engage in underage drinking
- local police officers unsure of alcohol-related policies
The diversity of audiences make navigation design particularly daunting on government websites; fortunately, Coveo mitigates that concern by allowing for intelligent, persona-driven search. Coveo also helps identify those personas, enabling reporting on common search criteria, trends in search behavior, and analytics on search performance and facets. All of these factors help customers continue to finetune the search experience.
Don’t reinvent the wheel.
While budget constraints are certainly not unique to state and local government, they can be more extreme. It may be tempting to consider building your own custom solution, but going out-of-the-box can be more cost-effective. Coveo’s built-in features can, in many cases, deliver required search functionality for far less than the cost would be to custom build that same functionality.
For example, the alcohol and beverage commission’s digital team had independently developed a list of search requirements as they sought to advance the website’s capabilities from minimum viable product (M.V.P.) status to a more polished customer experience in their next release. Having implemented Coveo for Sitecore in the private sector, we quickly recognized that procurement of Coveo would deliver desired functionality and more for less than it would cost for CapTech to custom build that functionality. As a budget-conscious state agency, this was welcome news to the government agency.
To read more about the unique challenges of delivering personalized website experiences in state and local governments, please download our complete white paper. Download it to learn:
- Pragmatic and actionable next steps governments can take in modernizing their digital experiences
- Best practices from CapTech’s experience delivering a wide variety of website, app and other digital initiatives for state and local governments
- Common challenges and obstacles that hinder digital initiatives in the public sector and how to overcome them