With the Election rapidly approaching, many offices are transitioning away from 2016 and laying the groundwork for the 115th Congress. One of the best ways to strategize for a productive 2017 is to examine your web presence. Technology, like life, moves pretty fast - if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you might fall behind.
When you’re evaluating your current website, here are 5 questions you should consider to help make your website great again.
“What impression does our website leave?” First impressions are the most lasting and, for many of your constituents, a website is the first impression they get of their representative in Congress. If your office hasn’t redesigned your website since the previous congress, you’re definitely not leaving a good one. Having an outdated website could easily decrease your credibility with younger constituents -- why would they trust you to propose new solutions if you appear digitally out of touch?
“Is our website mobile-friendly?” Smartphone and tablet usage has increased dramatically over the last five years. As of 2015, over 50% of internet users view websites with tablets and smartphones. You might be wondering, how does this affect me? When you have a website that was never designed to be viewed by a mobile device, you are making it difficult for the people in your district to use. Designing a responsive website - one that automatically ‘responds’ and resizes for the device viewing it - is the best way to make your website accessible to accommodate the many ways that constituents connect with you. When you rethink your website, you will be able to create a design that fits comfortably in a multi-device world.
“What is it like for constituents to use our website?” How many times has someone called your office saying “I can’t access this page on your site when I am clicking it!” or “I can’t see how to get help on tours. Can I have just have more information over the phone?” If you deal with a lot of these calls, it means the user experience for your website needs work. How easy is it for constituents to find important information about the services your office provides? Over the years, it’s easy for websites to become cluttered and overly complex. Rethinking your navigation, highlighting and prioritizing your services on your homepage and cleaning up old content could prevent calls like these in the future!
“Is our website easy to keep current?” Life on the Hill can be hectic and it can be a challenge to post important information in a timely fashion. A great way to keep your website fresh and current is by leveraging content that can be automated. For your redesign, you might consider automatically updating social media, vote records, YouTube videos and photo sections. On top of benefiting your constituents, it will make your life infinitely easier - no one has time to post on multiple social media platforms and add the content to the Member’s website. This way, you can keep your content updated - all without lifting a finger!
“Are we maximizing our website?" When you are thinking about a redesign, you need to consider your endgame. You want more accessibility to services and to leverage your new site to engage with more constituents. Is your enewsletter signup form featured in a prominent place to encourage people to subscribe? News travels fast, but it certainly travels faster when you have a larger audience. You should also be leveraging advanced analytic data about your website visitors. It’s 2016 and you need to know how people are accessing the website, where they are clicking and what is the most popular content for your district.