Redesigning or modernization a government website is not an easy task. So much is involved, like the content to be used, the approval from stakeholders, processes to follow, and website and accessibility standards. There are other things like your and the users’ needs and what the RFP (Request for Proposal) needs to convey to consider.
With government websites and website RFPs being a unique blend of security requirements, we have a few strategies to increase the speed while reducing the stress involved in the RFP process.
And to help make things even easier for you, we at ADA Site Compliance will handle all the ADA website compliance issues. Our team of accessibility experts focuses on making your website compliant for all your users.
Essential Factors to Consider in Planning a Government Website Modernization
A few essential factors to consider while planning your government website design include:
1. Producing, editing, and migrating content
Content production is a vital part of the complete web designing process, involving content creators and subject matter experts for maximum engagement.
In the case of website redesigning services, content editing, and migration play an important role. To avoid surprises, you must know how much editing and migrating is needed based on the content in the existing website.
2. Web Content Accessibility Support
A combination of accessibility-compliant content and platforms helps create an accessible website. And while most websites require content owners to have an accessibility-compliant platform, accessibility-compliance workflows and procedures are often overlooked.
To avoid possible challenges, establish and adopt processes and practices that monitor and ensure accessibility compliance. It is also vital to validate and test the website accessibly periodically to ensure it remains accessible.
Also, look for files and documents that require remediation for accessibility compliance, and if you do not have the technical resources and expertise to maintain accessibility, look for a means of addressing the gap.
3. System Integration
Public sector organizations generally offer website visitors access to business and software applications that help with self-service tasks while optimizing business processes for millions of users.
So, it is important to consider business application integration while planning a website redesign. Reviewing all existing website applications is the best way to identify the necessary tasks, infrastructure, and resources for web designing.
4. Organizational Change Management
Implementing new systems and tools to the internal processes, procedures, and everyday operations helps avoid low stakeholder engagement and adoption.
Some changes and challenges to identify and consider include:
- New resources and skills in the organization
- Legal requirements for enforcing changes
- Implementation of new processes and policies
5. Maintenance and Support
Ongoing maintenance and support upon project completion help organizations gain additional knowledge of solutions through vendor collaboration, constant monitoring, and learning by the implementation. Regular maintenance also helps free up internal resources to focus more on strategic tasks. It is thus essential to include support and maintenance requirements in the project’s scope.
Understanding the Requirements for Government Agencies
In addition to the essential factors, you must consider the government agency requirements during the website design process. It is best to start with your goals and the agency’s missions, which the website should relate to and convey. Then, start creating requirements that your designers and user experience professionals will be able to design.
Conducting market research
Market research is essential because federal rules require it to ensure the project you plan is efficient and justifies the taxpayer’s money. Some approaches to use for market research include drafting a statement of work, posting an RFI (Request for Information), and directly contacting vendors for an estimate.
Developing the RFP
The most important part of the RFP is which contract vehicle to use. Some questions that will help you decide are:
- Considering the extent of your competition
- Getting more insight from the resource bank
- Streamlining small business community efforts
Hosting an in-person or online industry Day for sharing information about new requirements, technology, and vendor collaboration in the community also helps for larger projects.
User research comprises validating your product vision and ensuring it reflects user needs. This can be done by conducting user interviews, observing users perform a task, and then asking questions about it.
Open and closed card sorting studies help understand website organization and how users view the information space better. It helps determine the categories and sub-categories users expect to have on the website.
The tree testing research validates the card sorting finding structure. It helps ensure you place the right sub-categories in the main categories so that users can easily find the required information.
All discovery user research feedback applies to the initial wireframe prototype. It helps ensure the agency knows these were a draft and that major modifications can be made.
The wireframe and discovery research results help justify when and where to change and determine the final website design. It is easy to make changes to resolve any issue multiple users struggle with. Once all the necessary changes are made, the agency makes another review for the final review of the revised prototype design.
Launching a Website for the Federal Government
It is essential to decide on the best CMS for the federal government website based on its requirements and needs. Once the finalized design is approved, it is time to build the web pages in the new CMS.
The stakeholders’ final review of the developed website
After finalizing and approving each web page, sending it to the agency for approval is always better. This helps smoothen the process, as changing each page as reviewed is more accessible than changing the entire website later.
It is better to have a single webpage go through multiple rounds of reviews and edits at a time instead of having to edit the entire website at once.
Final development site study
Upon creating and approving all the CMS web pages, it needs a last round of user testing before going live. This is to check for any usability concerns in the built site. However, as always, user research is an iterative process involving continuously finding areas for improvement.
It is better to inform stakeholders of federal agencies about any new redesign by posting a banner at the top of the former homepage. This way, visitors know about the new redesign launch, and placing a link to the beta site lets visitors preview the site.
Placing the banner about three months before the hard launch gives users time to prepare and get used to the changes and new design. Emailing everyone participating in the user research pool also forms a part of the communication plan. After all, they had helped create the new design and should see the end product!
Launch beta site
The beta site launch is next in line upon finalizing each page of the development site. This includes coordinating with sister agencies and web developers routing Domain Name Server (DNS) to the IP address.
Launch live site
The launch of the live site does not indicate the end of the web design process. There is constant site monitoring for minor issues in the early stages, like bugs in redirects, new and better-enhanced accessibility options, and improved table functionality.
Many of our visitors and clients frequently ask us questions, so we have compiled a few of the most frequently asked questions with answers.
- 1. What essential things should you know when building a website?
A web developer must know five critical things while building a website design system: User Experience, Design, Content, SEO, and Security.
- 2. What makes a good government website?
Various factors constitute an excellent government website, which includes:
- Providing consistent user experience
- Embracing accessibility
- Being current
- Real users coming first
- Being trustworthy
- Listening to the audience
- 3. What are the points to be considered for planning a website?
There are seven essential points to consider while planning a new website design or re-design:
- Site purpose and objectives
- Target audience
- Responsive and mobile-friendly design
- Fresh and engaging content
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- 4. What are the critical things in a website?
Some important things to have in a website include a responsive design, an easy and up-to-date CMS, helpful navigation, high-quality content and blog, clear calls-to-action, contact information, strong brand identity, security requirements, and social media buttons.
There is no doubt that the website procurement process can be tiresome. But following the steps mentioned above can help ensure you do things properly. They give a better idea of the website design and redesign scope and the web CMS implementation process.
It does not matter if you have a project with a quick turnaround requirement or a long-term partnership. We at ADA Site Compliance can help ensure web compliance.
We are proud of being the #1 source of all ADA website compliance issues, with a team of accessibility experts always available to fix your website’s ADA compliance.
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The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.