Digital Services Websites Improve Government for Everyone

A moderated panel discussion that explores how to shift from a traditional "information" website to a Digital Services website for your local government. Hear from your colleagues who have substantially increased self service options for their public, and engaged citizens early in the re-design process. By doing so, these municipalities are reaching the historically under-served in their community, and improving the overall experience of government. They are also improving the back-end processes, efficiencies and financial/budgetary considerations for government staff and departments. 

Key Takeaways

  • People like to do things for themselves; you can make it easy for them by transforming your website into a digital services portal. 
  • Civil servants are already stretched thin; you can make their jobs easier by giving citizens and visitors the opportunity to utilize self-service options. 
  • Cities and Counties are currently using effective processes and technology solutions to enable Digital Services websites; you can take advantage of their experience.

Conference event time: 

  • 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. (Sessions)
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Venue: 

  • Aventine B

The Program Manager’s Guide to Product Ownership

Running a program in government is tough. In addition to designing and implementing policy, you often need to oversee the construction or maintenance of some kind of web product to accomplish your program’s mission. The only problem is, you’re likely more experienced in the actual mission than the business of building software. You don’t have to be a technical person to get a good product -- but you do need to learn how to be a good product owner.  Focusing your attention on building a great product lets the software get out of the way of the people trying to execute on your program mission. It can also help morale, and get civil servants re-connected to the reason they’re here in the first place. 
There is a lot of material out there on why agile and user-centered design processes are beneficial for software products and how to implement them. But government in particular has some special challenges that often seem incompatible with these methods. In this session, we'll discuss how to use the best practices of the private software industry in the context of government to create a usable and effective software product.

Key Takeaways

  • The absolute basics of running an agile project with user-centered design for program managers who aren't trained to build software products
  • How to shoehorn these methodologies into existing bureaucratic processes and structure
  • How to get your executive leadership on board and communicate these ideas to other government stakeholders

Conference event time: 

  • 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. (Sessions)
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Venue: 

  • Palatine

Kaitlin Devine

18F, General Services Administration
Kaitlin Devine

Kaitlin Devine is a Product Owner at the Department of the Treasury. She oversees development of the new USAspending.gov, using agile and user-centered design methodologies. Kaitlin is on detail from the General Services Administration’s technical consultancy 18F, where she served as the Director of Engineering. In addition to leading the engineering team at 18F, she has worked as both a full stack engineer and consultant. Prior to 18F, Kaitlin worked as a software engineer and on spending transparency policy at the Sunlight Foundation.

Sessions: 

Building Scalable RESTFul services

Come to discover what in the world are RESTFul services and what are its benefits over other API building technologies. We will cover the basics of HTTP representation protocols, RESTful routing, security, authentication and testing. We will then move to modeling RESTful resources via an open source tool called Relax; Restful Tools For Lazy Experts, and containerize it via docker. 

Key Takeaways

  • What is REST
  • REST Best practices
  • REST Implementations

Conference event time: 

  • 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. (Sessions)
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Venue: 

  • Aventine C

A Practical Guide to Establishing and Executing an Online Engagement Strategy

Most people think of their interactions with government in terms of transactions - paying utility bills, registering their vehicle, applying for a permit. In short: They act as customers. And over the last 20 years, It has become more rare for these "customers" to make the leap into being a citizen - a civic-minded resident of a community that is involved for the greater good of that community. This involvement is critical to a well-functioning government, so how can government organizations help transition the people they serve from customers to citizens? Online engagement tools and software, in conjunction with other mediums and tactics, may hold the key to unlocking this relationship. Yet so many government organizations struggle with the strategy and execution of an on-going online engagement effort. This session will detail the real, actionable steps to setting any online engagement effort up for success through a four-phase, guided approach.

Key Takeaways

  • Determining and launching the correct medium for your engagement efforts
  • How to promote and market your engagement efforts
  • What to do to utilize engagement in an effective and outcome-driven way

Conference event time: 

  • 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. (Sessions)
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Venue: 

  • Aventine A

Two Website Migrations and a Redesign: What We Learned

Are you overwhelmed by the idea of a complete website migration from one system to another? Don't know how to get from Point A to Point B? 
We will step you through our recent experiences of migrating two websites from static HTML to a Content Management System (CMS). We will also share our experience of completing a whole site redesign while staying in the same CMS and keeping user experience and accessibility in mind. Which tools were helpful during these projects, what is a content audit, how did we determine look and feel, what is card sorting, why is navigation important? 

Key Takeaways

  • Learn which software program to use to gather data to help you determine how your site is being accessed (using heat maps, Google Analytics, Surveys, Card-sorting and more)
  • Learn how to determine which content gets migrated
  • Learn how we ended the home page content arguments and how surveys really helped. 

Conference event time: 

  • 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. (Sessions)
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Venue: 

  • Aventine A

Developing a Social Media Plan: Why, How and What to Include

The City of Boulder, Colorado developed a comprehensive social media plan in 2017 that sets clear, practical guidelines for how the city will use social media and measure success. Hear lessons learned about why and how to develop a social media plan, including insights about topics to cover, like goals, posting guidelines, content strategy and measuring success. See a replicable social media plan that strives to reflect best practices and data-driven strategies to engage audiences, grow accounts and advance communication priorities.

Key Takeaways

  • Learn why a social media plan is valuable
  • Learn how to develop a plan and what to cover in a plan
  • Be sure to include important topics and effective strategies for leveraging social media.

Conference event time: 

  • 1 to 2 p.m. (Sessions)
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Venue: 

  • Palatine

Visual Storytelling

The ancient Egyptians recognized the value of pictures. Their hieroglyphics now intrigue museum visitors across the world.  The use visual content encourages greater engagement. Visuals help us tell our stories quickly with impact and emotion. But they have to be the right visuals. And when the visual is a powerful one, be it an image or video, the effect is magnified. Today, with all the competition for our attention, we need to promote ourselves, in an engaging, alluring, memorable way, through visual storytelling.

Key Takeaways

  • Look for ways to visually enhance any content you create, no matter the use case.
  • A healthy mix of content keeps your audience engaged and wanting more.
  • If your audience isn’t excited to share your content with friends and colleagues, you’re doing it wrong.

Conference event time: 

  • 1 to 2 p.m. (Sessions)
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Venue: 

  • Aventine C

Design Before Code: Thinking About Accessibility from the Ground Up

In many businesses today, it's common to think of accessibility as a technical challenge for developers. However, if you start with a design that takes the needs of people with disabilities into account, much less time and effort will be needed during development to make the finished product accessible. This session will include an overview of accessible design principles and will give some practical tips. Designers will also learn some tricks for working with developers to make sure the design is accessible before it's turned into code.

Key Takeaways

  • Accessibility is easier to incorporate into sites and apps when considered during design
  • People at all stages of the web development process play a part making the website accessible
  • Understanding users and what they need is key to understanding the importance of accessibility

Conference event time: 

  • 1 to 2 p.m. (Sessions)
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Venue: 

  • Aventine B

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