Are user interface and user experience (UI/UX) just fancy terms for quality design? Not at 360Civic.
We see design, interface and experience working together with functionality to deliver a predictable and enjoyable interaction between a site and its visitors. If developed well, this also makes future site refreshments more cost effective.
Effective Design for Civic Websites
Designing sites for public entities is more than just developing a creative look. Design has to match the personality of the entity and deliver a responsible, professional and competent image, while also ensuring that users find the site familiar and appealing. The colors, fonts and images should work together and match other materials and branding when available. But it is equally important for the site to appear modern and solve the real-world problems many public agencies have when communicating important information to a diverse audience.
While design is subjective, a design agency should be able to offer valid criteria for why certain elements are selected. In our presentations to city councils, state boards, boards of directors and other public sector entities, 360Civic always clearly explains the rationale behind the design choices we recommend.
User Interface Includes ADA Website Compliance Testing
A solid user interface invites new and repeat visitors to confidently explore a site through easy-to-understand menus, pop-ups and calls to action. The objective is to always deliver a consistent experience.
Public entities have a wide audience, and must be sensitive to the needs of constituents who may be older, younger, or coping with a visual, aural or physical impairment. When implemented optimally, UI makes sites ADA-usable and allows a wide range of visitors to interact with the site at their own speed and skills, without compromising design or functionality.
Optimal UI also allows designs to be updated without changing the usability and familiarity of the site, making transitions easier. UI integrates with your social media and mobile platforms.
Mobile responsiveness is an essential aspect of mobile UI strategy, and incorporates how the site looks on smaller screens, how mobile searches are conducted and why some users access the site on a mobile device. Mobile and desktop visitors typically do not search for the same information and services. And since phones and desktops have different capabilities, the pages created for them must also be different to be effective.
Finally, a solid UI strategy must be sustainable. It must continue to exist after the site is launched and as your employees add new content and refresh the site. A well-designed content management system (CMS) protects brand integrity and perpetuates the UI of your site.
User Experience (UX)
User experience touches every aspect of your organization and your brand. The websites of forward-thinking public sector organizations act as digital front doors to services and personnel. This is often the first place your constituents go to find out about your services. Websites are typically the most cost-effective medium for customer service, and when done correctly engender high customer service ratings. A good website can set the standard for your UX, and give you a quantifiable measurement by which to judge other aspects of your customer service.
A skilled design and development provider — like 360Civic — should have extensive experience building the forward facing sites that provide effective customer engagement, and mirror as closely as possible the interactions your users have with your organization offline. A strong UX, using the best in modern tools and philosophies, delivers integration with other applications and vendors, making communication with your city, town, water district or school part of one seamless process.
- Do your designs provide easy to use navigation?
While we will be able to provide more specific design recommendations following our selection and meeting, we anticipate a design that is professional and unique in appearance. Graphically inviting, especially with an entry page that speaks to the character of the organization’s mission, we seek to design a site that inspires visitors to explore the site for the information they need. Specifically:
- Load balance to serve more than one million pages views per day.
- Designed for 24/7 operation and 99.9% uptime, excluding necessary maintenance, so site visitors have access to information at their convenience.
- Capable of archiving documents, press releases and newsletters. We can also make these items searchable.
- Integrates with your social media platforms.
- Professional and unique in appearance. This design will be consistent throughout the site.
- Graphically inviting responsive/adaptive design, especially with an entry page, that inspires visitors to explore the site for the information they need regardless of device they use to access the site.
- Intuitive and simple for users to understand how to use the site and where to find the specific information they want.
- Print-friendly for all the website’s pages.
- Support for all major document formats, including doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt, pptx, pdf and others requested.
- Support for all major image formats, including jpg, gif, png and others required.
- Also, because we test our designs on multiple platforms and browsers, we ensure a consistent viewing experience across Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome stable and Firefox on both PC and Mac platforms.
We are fully aware of the website elements necessary in order to achieve compliance with Federal ADA Requirements. For example, ensuring that the site can be navigated with only the directional arrows and keyboard and offering a text browser.
- Are designs optimized for multiple devices, including computers, tablets, and phones?
360 is hired to create mobile apps for many clients, so we are very experienced in creating websites that are mobile-friendly and give users the same access from their mobile device as from their computer. The websites we create are intended for viewing on computers, tablets and smart phones.
- Can you create customizable sub-sites within one main brand identity?
When we customize templates, we work with you to ensure that required branding details (logos, branding graphics, taglines) as well as style details (font type, size, color for text and headlines) are locked out to content editors. Of course you can make those editable for administrators if you choose. While locking in the style and design standards, 360 would provide you with a web-based editing and administration WYSIWYG interface that looks and feels similar to working in Word. The administrative interface will give your staff tools that they are comfortable using on the main site or sub-sites based on the CMS.