GOVTalks Spring 2022

On May 19, we hosted our 15th GOVTalks, a daylong conference on digital government best practices for leaders and practitioners across the state. The sessions focused on enhancing the customer experience (CX) on websites and beyond Chatbots and the unified design system were among the topics taking center stage. Accessibility advocates shared best practices for government organizations, and a social media team gave us the inside scoop on finding their audience on TikTok. We also invited attendees to become involved in the Georgia Digital Center of Excellence and to take advantage of our newest service offering, an analytics consultation. Here’s a recap of each session.

Keynote: Trust in Government Starts with Customer Experience (CX)

Nikhil Deshpande
Chief Digital Officer, State of Georgia

“People want to have the same experience on government websites as they get from private-sector websites.” Nikhil Deshpande, Chief Digital Officer

Government websites do not compete with the private sector. Our goal is to provide users with an easy, fast, and friendly customer experience so they can resolve issues that cannot be resolved.

There are several ways organizations can embrace customer experience. A good start is creating a CX-centered culture with the mission to serve all users.

Nikhil shared the anatomy of trust: Intent, competency, transparency, and accessibility/inclusivity. 


Lightning Talk: Are Chatbots the Answer?

Donna Sumner 
Project Manager, DSGa

“What problem are you trying to solve?” Donna Sumner, Project Manager.

Having a chatbot can be a good solution to enhance the customer experience of your organization’s website. It can answer the most commonly asked questions, and potentially it could save time and resources. However, a chatbot is only as good as the content programmed into it. It needs to be implemented carefully and continually tweaked to make sure it’s meeting your goals. 

We are the Champions … of Accessibility!

Yen Tang
Director of Outreach, DSGa

“Everyone has a level of responsibility to make sure the content is accessible from its creation,” Johan Rempel, UX/ICT Quality Assurance Manager at the Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation.

GOVTalk coincided with  Global Accessibility Awareness Day as experts and advocates shared best practices for making sure content meets digital accessibility standards. The panel included Stacey Peace, State ADA coordinator; Elizabeth McKinney, PINES program director at Georgia Public Library Service; and Johan Rempel, UX/ICT Quality Assurance Manager at CIDI.  “It takes a village,” the panelists agree, to make sure the content is fully accessible.

From budgeting to executive buy-in to content creation, all departments involved should understand the importance of accessibility from a culture and policy standpoint. A new statewide Accessibility Champions program will help all state agencies improve the accessibility of public services.

They discussed the need for ongoing education within organizations to make sure every member of the team understands that accessibility and inclusion are core requirements that improve usability and customer experience for all.

Growing the Orchard: What’s Next for Georgia’s Design System

Rachel Hart
UX/UI Designer, DSGa

“People see the government as a monolith…they see it all as one big government, and we want to give them the information in a way that lets them know it is all connected because it is”, Rachel Hart

Consistency in design and branding across platforms helps build trust with site visitors. Orchard, Georgia’s official design system was created to help all digital products to have a consistent and unified look whether on the GovHub CMS or not.

By making Orchard available to all developers who need it, agencies are able to save time and money.

The State of Social Media

Will Alford
Director of Content, DSGa

Public information is not limited to a well-designed and accessible website. Many government agencies also use social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok to improve government transparency and increase the availability of services and information to different audiences.

Lanie Weathers, social media manager for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, and SFC Michael Burns of the Georgia State Patrol public information office shared their learnings, insights, and best practices on how social media factors into their communications strategy.

The discussion covered the amount and frequency of new content, how to manage comments, and the benefits of vertical video on TikTok and Instagram Reels.

They emphasized quality over quantity and that every platform has a different audience and content specifications. 

GovHub: Evolution, Innovation, and Advocacy

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”

Jasmyne Epps
Product Manager, DSGa

Jasmyne highlighted our milestones including migrating to Drupal 8, the recent update to Drupal 9 and strengthening our firewall to protect sites from malicious attacks.

We revamped the GovHub onboarding process, creating virtual on-demand training for new agency partners thus reducing support requests by nearly 40 percent. Since the new process was implemented in May 2021, 53 new users joined GovHub along with 6 more state agencies.

Other big GovHub product wins are the ability to include landing page videos, code blocks, chatbots, and webforms customized to agencies’ needs.

Jasmyne invited GovHub users to get involved in guiding our innovation by becoming a member of the DCoE Advisory Committee. Agency representatives can share pain points and wish lists so we can set product development priorities.

Lightning Talk: Mind the G.A.P.

Amanda de Zayas
Lead Content Strategist, DSGa

GOVTalks 2022 ended with a new service addition for our agency partners: a GAP consultation.

The GAP consultation includes a comprehensive report that assesses the current site and recommends a roadmap for future improvements to raise GAP scores.

Understanding data and making content decisions based on analytics are crucial to achieving a user-friendly web experience for government websites.

The GAP consultation objectives are to increase the GAP score, improve content quality and user experience, develop a plan for improvements and decrease agency burden.