On April 28, Wisconsin.gov shared its makeover, unveiling a new look and functionality for a website that hadn’t been redesigned since Facebook was called Thefacebook. Officials said the redesign was long overdue, and the website now brings the state’s beauty to users while providing them with the content they seek in as few clicks or taps as possible.
The state’s old website had become a sort of dumping ground for content, and finding a particular piece of information was left up to the ingenuity of the user, said Stephanie Marquis, communications director at the Wisconsin Department of Administration.
“Over time, it really lost its ability to be navigated well, to be researched well and the information out there was incredibly outdated,” she said. “We found documents out there that hadn’t been updated for 10 years.”
People visit a government website to get the content they want quickly and then to get out, Marquis added, and that’s what the portal’s new design accomplishes.
Like many state government websites, Wisconsin.gov users cannot navigate a common look and layout across all state agencies, but the purpose of a well-designed portal is to stitch the state’s many websites together so users can be easily routed to the content they are looking for, Marquis said. “I think this new portal instead of making it seem like we’re fragmented, makes it seem like we’re seamless,” she said.
Funded through its affiliation with the Wisconsin Interactive Network and NIC, Wisconsin.gov was redesigned and built by a 10-person team over eight months. User feedback was an important part of the design process, Marquis said, as the team looked at the historically most common searches and requests to determine which content would be showcased.
The new design prominently features those tasks commonly sought by users, such as scheduling a road test, getting an ID card or changing one’s address. The old website didn’t really consider the user, Marquis said, and was designed from a state-agency perspective rather than looking at the needs and wants of the user, the citizens.
The website features responsive design, making it accessible by a variety of devices; online chat support is to be available at all times; and there is a new section of the website called workforce, designed to make all resources sought by workers and businesses easily accessible from a central location. An agency directory makes navigating the state bureaucracy less difficult, and even includes commonly visited pages that the user may be searching for at each agency.
Feedback on the website has been positive so far, Marquis said, and as they continue to gather feedback and analyze the things users search for, the state will continue updating the portal to reflect those needs.
“People now do business online for the vast majority of things they do," she said, "so I think that when you look at that from a customer service perspective, state government needs to evolve to reflect the way that people are doing business now."
Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.