On November 23, 2012, the Federal Web Managers Council and the Federal Digital Services Advisory Group delivered their recommendations for best practices for digital professionals across the federal government: Ten recommended guidelines for improving digital services and customer experience.
The Digital Government Strategy calls on federal agencies to rethink how we create, deliver and present our digital products. These recommendations guide digital professionals from the initial planning stage through to the evaluation and improvement stage. The goal is to ensure that agencies produce digital products that are equal to or superior to what a citizen might find in the private sector, whether on their desktop or on their mobile device. These best practices provide digital professionals a roadmap for meeting the needs of an increasingly savvy and fractured digital audience.
The recommendations come after months of conversations with stakeholders inside and outside of the government, beginning a little over a year ago with the National Dialogue on Improving Federal Websites. From that conversation and others, the Federal CIO released the Digital Government Strategy (Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People), giving clear goals and guidelines for improving digital products throughout the federal government.
These best practices and guidelines, written using members’ combined years of digital experience and conversations with vendors, users and private sector experts, are intended for a wide range of professionals at all stages of digital product development, such as:
- The agency New Media Director who receives a request to set up a new website and wants to show the program office everything involved in carrying out that assignment.
- An agency Chief Information Officer wanting to see the recommended web technology standards for federal agencies as they pertain to mobile policies and the usage of the web.
- A vendor managing implementation of a new content management system who wants to know the most recent standards and guidelines needed to deliver a better customer experience.
Even offices not traditionally considered “digital” will benefit from these new best practices. For example, an agency records officer who wants to know requirements and best practices for archiving web records or an agency’s customer service officer who strives to ensure compliance with new required digital metrics for their customer-facing products.
Finally, these guidelines direct digital professionals to incorporate the new standards and policies being delivered under the Digital Government Strategy. It is impossible to design a new digital product and disregard the need for open data, a content-management system or an application programming interface (API) to free the information for other uses. Again, this is a culture change in the way digital products are created within the federal space by focusing on the end need and a holistic approach to meeting it.
The Web Council and Digital Services Advisory Group present these best practices and guidelines as a starting point. Just as the digital space is rapidly changing, the guides will be added to and tweaked to respond to these changes. Your feedback and suggestions are welcome.