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.