Imagine a website designed to be responsive to the customer’s needs while at the same time improving access to government services and information. Miami-Dade County, Fla., is taking a drastic leap by retiring its Web portal and building a new website from the ground up. The new customer-oriented, service-driven site is called beta.miamidade.gov.
“We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish with the new beta site. It has been organized and developed with the customer as the main focus,” said Miami-Dade County Communications Director Inson Kim.
The approach to building the new website was informed by Web traffic analysis, public feedback and the 311 Contact Center, which takes calls from customers with questions about non-emergency government services. The first phase of the project focused on analyzing more than 100 of the top county services. The results influenced the design of new content management templates, helped identify knowledge gaps and determined priorities.
“We have the information county residents are looking for and we know what people are calling about so we used that knowledge to design a website that makes it easier for our customers to transact with the county,” Kim said.
Browse through the beta site and you’ll notice a major change in the new format — information that people don’t need or want to see has been removed. Content has been reorganized and rewritten in plain language so that residents can easily find and digest what they need to know about a particular service. Now it will take less time for county residents to get information on services such as recycling, adopting a pet and paying a water bill.
The new website will give citizens the ability to log in to a personalized website. It will be powered by a customer database and single sign-on technology, allowing residents to view transactional history, pay bills and find service locations like parks and libraries near where they live. Additionally, residents will be able to select their communication preferences so the county can send targeted messages through preferred channels of communication.
“Miami-Dade County is emerging as a leader in technology and innovation,” said Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “The new beta site is an effective communication tool that will help make our county more open, transparent and efficient.”
The Communications Department led the efforts to design beta.miamidade.gov, and the team also worked to ensure that the new and improved pilot site is responsive to support all mobile devices and tablets. The county wants to get closer to customers by giving them a better, more personalized online experience.
“We want to engage customers across every device in order to build better relationships. Understanding our customer is essential to making a meaningful impact in our communications,” Kim said.
Another innovative component of the beta site will be newly designed marketing pages for major campaigns and initiatives. These highly visual and creative pages help to separate marketing content and images from pages focused on key services, giving the overall website a clean, streamlined look and feel.
The beta site, which was first introduced in 2016, is still in the early testing phase. The county is collaborating with both civic partners and community groups to make sure the new site meets the citizen’s expectations.
The county also joined in on a national government trend to work with a local Civic User Testing Group (CUTGroup). Code for Miami, a civic organization, facilitated the testing sessions made up of everyday citizens. The feedback from the CUTGroup helps developers identify improvements that need to be made to the new website and apps.
The current site, miamidade.gov, will remain the primary source for county information until it is replaced by the new beta site.