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Dot-govs Need Digital Overhaul… Yesterday

To no surprise, people want online engagements to be as seamless as commercial websites.
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Photo Credit: exdez/iStock, Animation: Jerome Wiley

The world has changed. Citizens are hailing cabs via their smartphones, ordering groceries online and chatting with bots for customer service. They want the same out of government services, too, but don’t feel agencies are quite there yet.

That’s according to Booz Allen Hamilton’s recent “Rise of the Digital Citizen” survey, which examined how consumers’ digital experience with the federal government compared to that of commercial websites, and what citizens expect. It asked 1,000 U.S. adults who recently accessed federal government information online.

Overall, 59 percent of respondents found federal websites easy to navigate, 62 percent view federal sites as secure and 38 percent find them mobile-friendly. But considering the reliance on smartphones and digital devices today, it’s time to prioritize citizens’ online and mobile experience.

Here are the key takeaways:

People expect to engage with government online: Of the respondents who have recently accessed federal government information in the past 12 months, 78 percent of them did so online, through federal websites.

People want the ease and innovation of commercial sites: The three top ways respondents said government can improve the online experience are by making it easier to find information, making support more available when needed and making it easier to complete all needs online. When asked how help is best provided online, 48 percent said online chat support.

People are still hopeful: While they noted many areas for improvement, 56 percent of respondents are somewhat or very optimistic the federal digital experience can be improved.

To achieve this bright, digital future, Booz Allen’s experts provided recommendations for federal technologists, web designers and strategists. First, build digital services with a citizen-first approach with responsive design, logical navigation and self-service features — and use industry best practices to do so.

Second, don’t build a website based on internal organizational structures, logic and acronyms. Instead, build with a more holistic, services-driven approach based on user needs and likely navigation. And lastly, optimize the entire customer experience with not only websites, but social media platforms, call centers and new, innovative forms of engagement citizens are use daily. This can build a relationship with consumers and create an agency brand.

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