LOUISIANA DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION
SERVICE TO THE CITIZEN AWARD WINNER
Jacques Berry, Marsha Shuler and Tai Istre (Louisiana Division of Administration’s (DOA) Communications Team) is being recognized for providing citizens’ streamlined access to Louisiana’s digital government resources. Citizens' interactions with the Louisiana state government in the past have often been portrayed as slow, difficult to navigate, paper-heavy, and frustratingly inefficient. Modern conveniences have enabled the digitization of many government processes, and the State of Louisiana has made significant efforts to modernize its processes to improve access and efficiency for all of its citizens and businesses. The result was a complete overhaul of the state's official website, Louisiana.gov, with major focuses on rapid access to resources, accessibility for all users, and responsiveness across any and all devices and browsers.
One of the major features of the new site is a comprehensive index of all the digital resources offered by Louisiana's state government. The DOA Communications Team worked tirelessly to comb through every one of Louisiana's state agencies to ensure that all online resources were included. DOA staff partnered with representatives from each agency to not only put together a list of services offered, but to also thoroughly understand their individual purpose and function so that detailed descriptions, keywords, and categories could be included for each. That information was then used to create a fully interactive and searchable list of well over three hundred online services with links directly to each one. The team’s effort produced the first comprehensive and centralized hub of online services for the state.
Housing content in one central location was a major step forward, but the DOA Communications Team didn't stop there. Their focus from the beginning of the project was to streamline access to not just the online services offered by the state, but Louisiana Government resources as a whole. To achieve this, the team included as many channels as possible to help users drill down to exactly what they were looking for. In addition to the searchable index of online services, a custom search engine was developed to provide an enterprise search of all Louisiana government websites, with results displayed adjacent to relevant online service links. A more innovative channel offered by the DOA team, a chatbot, was also included on the site, focused on quickly directing users to the specific government agencies and resources that could best meet their needs. DOA Communications staff actively monitors the chatbot and continues to add to its knowledge base whenever patterns point out weaknesses or lack of info.
DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND COMMUNICATION
LEAD, STATE CENSUS DATA CENTER
Keeping in theme with the inclusion of all the state's government, the Communications Team also put together a database of physical locations of Louisiana's state resources, including agency headquarters, state parks, office locations, and health units, just to name a few. That database is presented to users of the site as a fully interactive map that can be filtered to find the locations specifically providing the resources sought after, including full contact information in addition to a map point. The DOA team coordinated with agencies across the state and, as with many of the site’s features, the map is the first of its kind for Louisiana's state government.
The DOA Communications Team made every effort to guarantee that ALL Louisianans were considered when designing the new website, paying special attention to accessibility needs. Rather than simple compliance with standard web accessibility guidelines, the team went above and beyond to ensure they met the highest accessibility standards, AAA WCAG 2.0 compliance, across the site while simultaneously designing an attractive, modern aesthetic for all to appreciate. In addition to the site's accessibility-focused design, a dedicated tool is included on the site to allow further manipulation of the site's appearance for users needing to do so.
With the rapid growth of mobile workspaces and smartphones, DOA wanted this site to perform equally well across all devices. Not settling for a site that simply worked across devices, the Communications Team took the time to design views to optimize the site for the specific screen it was being used on. Font sizes, page layouts, and menus are responsive across all devices, so users can quickly and easily navigate the site with minimal effort from anywhere at any time.
The site's redesign has been a multi-year effort by the DOA Communications Team, and their work continues. The effort and consideration they put into the planning and executing the site’s redesign has improved efficiency greatly for its visitors and enables the Louisiana Government to reach citizens, businesses, and visitors in a centralized location. Perhaps even more importantly, the site enables users to enjoy easy interactions with their government.
By providing a central location to begin interactions with Louisiana's government, the DOA Communications Team has reduced the amount of effort needed for citizens and businesses to meet their needs quickly and efficiently. The redesigned website is averaging about 75,000 users per month, with online services accounting for about one third of the page views, suggesting that users are readily using the site to find the resources they need. Further, the chatbot has successfully matched responses to over 50% of user input, and 28% of users have actively confirmed the responses provided were helpful. With an average of less than three messages per conversation, the chatbot is proving to be a very quick and direct path to government resources.
Over 40% of the site's traffic is from mobile phones or tablets, confirming successful execution of the responsive design. Giving users the tools to complete their government interactions on the go saves time, reduces frustration, and can decrease the workload for government staff providing in-person services.
The DOA Communications Team’s focus on accessibility and inclusion of all Louisiana citizens and agencies has enabled them to set a bar which all state government entities should strive to reach.