Thursday, September 21

9 to 10:30 a.m. (Thursday Keynote)

The Journey of 500 Journeys

Dana will take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of five years of research-based adjacent possibles that revealed a view of voters no one had seen before. It’s a time-tested story of how research transcends common wisdom, emerging victorious. 

After hearing from Dana, you’ll have a solid understanding of the gradual, continuous work that it takes to embrace a wicked problem and map it out. And why eight research participants is never enough. 

Location: Aventine DEF

11 a.m. to 12 noon (Sessions)

Website Redesign Done Right (The First Time)

Website redesigns are important and strategic. Whether your organization is rebranding, getting rid of excess clutter, fixing errors, or making your website accessible, there are many reasons to undergo a redesign. But how do you ensure that the final product is what you envisioned for your organization and your visitors? We will discuss steps to take throughout the process, including setting goals based on analytics, migrating content, incorporating accessibility, and ongoing site testing. You and your team will be able to sit back and breathe easy on launch day.

Key Takeaways

  • Feel confident in setting website objectives to drive the redesign process from beginning to end.
  • Understand the importance of incorporating accessibility testing throughout the redesign process.
  • Understand all major steps in the redesign process and how to prioritize them.
Location: Aventine A

Social Media: It's Time to Level Up!

The City of West Hollywood is a small town of 35,000 people situated in the middle of the entertainment capital of the world - Los Angeles, CA. Getting their social media messaging heard in this competitive and media savvy environment requires a creative and sometimes edgy approach. In this session we'll explore the social media strategies this small but feisty municipality incorporates to effectively speak to their audience and amplify their messaging while reaching millions of people in the process. It's a case study on how to take your social media game to the next level.

Key Takeaways

  • A premium should be put on compelling content.
  • Knowing your audience allows you to be authentic. If you can be authentic, you can be more effective.
  • Social media managers should consider leveraging social media influencers to expand their ability to get their important messages out to their constituents (and beyond!).
Location: Aventine B

Accessible Government with Amazon Alexa

During this session you'll learn how to make your information easily available via  custom chatbots for Amazon Alexa and Facebook Messenger. 

Key Takeaways

  • Learn about the features, capabilities, and integration points of Amazon Alexa and related APIs.
  • Learn how to build your first chatbot.
  • Learn how to expose back-office data through a voice-based interface.
Location: Aventine C

Government Words Don’t Make You Sound Smart

Think back to when you started your first government job. During your first weeks you probably heard words like infrastructure, solid waste, road diets, strategic plans, RFPs and RFQs, expenditures, economic development, surface lots, infill, multi-modal, various acronyms – you get the idea. Your vocabulary grew and you slowly started using these words in your content. Technology improvements? Let’s call it digital infrastructure! However, our country’s literacy rate doesn’t correspond with that of our websites. This session will cover the importance of simplifying your writing through eliminating jargon, adopting a consistent style guide and by having a little common sense.

Key Takeaways

  • Government is for everyone, not just the educated. 
  • How to make your content read at an accessible level. 
  • Why consistent content style is important for not only readability, but also credibility. 
Location: Palatine AB

1 to 2 p.m. (Sessions)

Employee Notifications - from the cloud and lightning fast

As the first winter storm of last year blanketed the County in snow, it became apparent that our existing tool used to inform employees of office closures was in worse shape than the icy roads. The county manager called on our team to build a more robust, more accurate and, most importantly, more timely solution to deliver news to our employees of emergencies and office closures. We leveraged cloud based solution, Zapier, to orchestrate formatting and routing messages to email, social networks and text messaging. The multi-channel notification of all employees went from 30 plus minutes to under 5, all at the click of a button. Learn how the solution we built and about the tech used to make it possible.

Key Takeaways

  • Importance of finding a single source for employee data that is accurate and easy to access
  • Use of Zapier to connect the web service dots in formatting and delivering messaging to multiple platforms
  • Immense cost savings and faster delivery using Amazon Web Services(SNS) to send text messages.
Location: Aventine A

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
Location: Aventine B

It just got real: Terrible Tales and life lessons from the govie security trenches

Sometimes excrement hits the oscillating rotary device. When you’re in charge of a local government website, the only question is “when.” Join Carolyn Shannon, the Web Administrator of the City of St. Charles, IL, and AJ Van Beest, the security lead for Bayfield County, WI, as they talk about experiences they each had of getting hacked. Learn what happened, how they responded, and the lessons they learned. Key take-aways: How to tell when you’re hacked, how to respond, and how to make it harder for the next hacker.

Location: Aventine C

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.
Location: Palatine AB

2:15 to 3:15 p.m. (Sessions)

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. 
Location: Aventine A

Digital Services Websites Improve Government for Everyone

An exploration of how to shift from a traditional "information" website to a Digital Services website for your local government. Hear case studies on Grand Rapids, MI and Miami, FL, 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 responsiveness 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.
    Location: Aventine B

    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
    Location: Aventine C