Government

How the Department of Energy is Changing the Digital Government Game

Annie Stone, Director of Marketing
#User Experience | Posted

Government websites face specific challenges when it comes to engaging their users, like large, diverse constituencies, heavy content requirements, and, often, sluggish communication between departments—impacting site efficiency. However, these challenges can be mitigated with innovative design and UX practices.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has always positioned themselves as a leader in digital government, creating digital experiences that compete with their commercial counterparts. Recently, the DOE teamed up with Phase2 to improve UX and editorial efficiency by implementing the latest innovative strategies to attract and engage digital audiences during a refresh of their Drupal website, Energy.gov.

screenshot of the Department of Energy's website, energy.gov. Homepage and main menu pictured.

Here is some insight into the design and UX best practices the DOE incorporated that can help you better engage your digital audiences.

Boost Content Efficiency with Flexible Design and Drupal

Your content editors should be the drivers of your site.

When visitors enter government websites they want timely and relevant content and easy navigation to the answers they need. That means if your content editors are waiting on developers to publish content, your users are going to have a bad time wading through outdated or irrelevant content.

The DOE empowered their content editors by leveraging the Drupal Paragraphs module. Paragraphs includes flexible page layouts and incorporates a module approach. With this design, content editors no longer require developer assistance to build pages. Instead they work in flexible blocks of content that are simple to update and rearrange, allowing for smarter information architecture.  

[Learn about Drupal Paragraphs' next wave with Layout Builder in our Drupal 8 Issue of Contributed Magazine.]

Consider Consumer UX Strategies

Consumer UX and design strategies have historically been a rare find on government websites, but they are gaining momentum and becoming more widespread.

While it may seem irrelevant to point out that consumer expectations have changed dramatically over the past few years in this government-focused blog, the truth is that constituents are also consumers. And those consumer expectations are migrating to the government space.

Some successful consumer strategies that the DOE implemented include adding rich media capabilities that provide visitors with engaging imagery, video and other multimedia content, and improving mobile experiences so constituents can access vital information on the go.

These consumer strategies can greatly improve your constituents’ experience on your website,  and ultimately establish a positive digital rapport between citizens and government.

Develop a Consistent User Experience

Government agencies are often large; this is no news. And it can be very difficult to ensure that users who visit various departments have a consistent experience. But consistency in digital experience is becoming increasingly important across government agencies (big or small).

Why? Because consistent UX isn’t just for consumer brands anymore. Embracing a user-centric approach can improve transparency, make interacting with government agencies easier for citizens, improve department efficiencies, and even save government agencies money.

Drupal’s Paragraphs module allows the numerous offices and departments at the DOE to have flexible editorial features and preferences while keeping high level branding and UX consistent across all platform sites.

Don’t Neglect Accessibility

The information offered on government websites should be accessible to anyone and everyone.

By 2020, the elderly will outnumber those over the age of 5, and Baby Boomers will make up 15% of our population. Government agencies and departments can’t afford to ignore the growing need of its constituents for accessible digital platforms.

To help the DOE comply with accessibility best practices, Phase2 made Alt text a required field and encouraged proper captioning and titling. This not only ensured that the DOE is accessibility compliant, it also improved UX and organic site traffic as visitors are drawn by robust media.

If you would like to learn more about accessibility for government, check out our definitive guide to the alt-text field.

By implementing these design and UX best practices you can stay ahead of the game, boost your agency’s efficiency, and build a better relationship with your constituents.

Annie Stone

Annie Stone

Director of Marketing