At Digital Services Georgia, we constantly ask ourselves two burning questions to keep us motivated to do the work that we do:
- How can we help make state information and services easy to access and easy to use?
- Is a hot dog a sandwich?
We may never be able to answer the second question – who in this universe can? – but the first can only be achieved with the collaboration of others in state government.
We know a lot is being asked of public service employees already. The needs of Georgians remain constant, but our state workforce has declined by 25% during the last 14 years and turnover rate for the past fiscal year reached a historic high of 23%.
So how do we collectively do more with fewer resources? One way is by letting our always-on websites carry the load in delivering understandable guides to services instead of relying on people-powered call centers or email. And on our websites, we must publish accessible content and stick to digital best practices to provide a good, consistent user experience. Because if websites can’t help those in need, they’ll have to rely on call centers and email, and then we’re back to square one.
Creating good user experience requires accurate content that’s well written and designed. While we can’t ensure accuracy, as we’re not subject matter experts on any government service, we can help make digital content better. And we do that under the principle that whatever we learn, we share with our agency partners.
Those are our goals in offering the Digital Academy, a state certified training program we re-launched earlier this year after bringing the course materials up to date. This intensive course, with on-demand classes and a live webinar, teaches content creators the fundamentals and best practices in understanding their audience, digital accessibility, and writing readable content for the web. Taken altogether, it empowers them to make good decisions and advocate the same to their agency colleagues.
The Digital Academy and other classes in our training program also afford us the opportunity to pass on evolving guidelines and latest technologies to an audience that may not have the time to keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape. This is another way we can do more with less.
Our first cohort of Digital Academy students earned their State Certified Content Specialists certificate last month, armed with the skills to create easily consumable content for all. It was worth the time spent learning, as the feedback survey revealed that:
- 88% had a positive overall satisfaction level
- 100% agreed that the knowledge assessments were relevant
- 100% agreed that the program expanded their knowledge
We have more courses scheduled this year, as well as development of a separate leadership track for executives. While some of the class materials are for our partners who use GovHub, the state digital publishing platform, we invite anyone who works in Georgia public service to attend and allow us to share how to make good content.
But more importantly, what makes a sandwich a sandwich? It can possibly be defined by the cube rule. That's up for debate. But an easier question to answer may be what makes a good sandwich. Obviously, one that’s made for you.