Government websites are not like other websites. Except for a very small group, most people visiting a city’s website are there for a very specific purpose. So how, then, does a city build a website to serve those specific purposes?

That’s the central question behind Granicus acquiring the website-building company Vision Internet in a deal announced Feb. 14.

The move brings visionLive, a cloud-based content management solution (CMS) built with the public sector in mind, into a growing suite of functionality under the Granicus umbrella. The company already offered federal, state and local governments the ability to send messages to constituents through multiple channels, to livestream meetings and manage agendas, to manage record-keeping duties, and more.

The Vision acquisition effectively creates a path toward connecting those things together through websites. Mark Hynes, Granicus’ CEO, pointed specifically to the company’s existing database of more than 150 million users subscribed to customer messaging channels. From that database, Granicus already knows what its end users’ interests are.

“When websites are released, we have the ability to reach them and tell them about what they care about,” Hynes said.

There’s a lot of overlap between the two companies’ customer bases. Granicus has about 3,000 customers while Vision has about 800; some 300 already use both.

“The type of customers we both target and serve are very similar,” he said.

Vision does more than just CMS — the company provides primary and backup hosting, designs desktop and mobile versions of the website front ends, works in cybersecurity measures, and offers digital service integration. It also does a lot of user experience work.

When building websites, Vision likes to gather input from government stakeholders, survey citizens about what they want and collect data on how people have been using the current website. A user experience team brings all that information together and gives recommendations to guide the design process.

That ties back to Vision’s thesis that the bulk of government website visitors are there for a specific purpose, according to the company’s CEO David Nachman. It also helps avoid bringing too many cooks into the kitchen.

“If you find yourself in a position where you don’t have good data, a lot of times what you end up with is a website that’s a series of compromises,” Nachman said.

The company also has a customer working group where it brings together clients to discuss functionality it wants to add to its platform, gather feedback, rapidly prototype, user-test and then iteratively improve the new features before it rolls them out. 

The move is the latest in a string of big deals for Granicus since late 2016. That’s when Vista Equity Partners acquired Granicus and GovDelivery and quickly merged them together. Soon after, Granicus brought in Hynes as CEO and then acquired the legislation management firm Novusolutions.

There are almost certainly more deals on the horizon for Granicus as Vista looks to grow the company’s value and ultimately exit the investment. For Hynes’ part, he said the company is still marching down the path of seamless, end-to-end citizen engagement as state and local governments look more and more toward the cloud.

“We’re seeing that trend grow in momentum and we want to be the leading vendor that delivers … on that digital promise,” Hynes said.

None of the parties involved have announced the price tag on the deal.