NAGW 2017 - San Diego


September 19, 2017 (Preconference)
September 20 - 22, 2017


Hyatt Regency La Jolla
San Diego, California

Conference Program [pdf]
Conference Presentations (members only)

Pinnacle Winners

2017 Pinnacle Award Winners
Screenshots of Winners on Pinterest

Social Media

Storify Conference Story
Flickr Photo Album: Conference Photos
Flickr Photo Album: Pinnacle Award Winners
YouTube Videos
  • Being Agile When You are the Only One (2017)

    Adjusting Agile project management for use in a small shop to get your work done and make your internal customers happy

    Key Takeaways

    1. A long journey, even a development project, is only a bunch of small steps one after another
    2. Reuse strategies that work for others
    3. Project management is a process, not a destination
  • An Introduction to Node.JS (2017)

    During this 4-hour session you'll learn about how to get NodeJS up and running. You'll review how to respond to http and websocket requests as well as query data from both relational and NOSQL databases. You'll use Jade templates to output dynamically constructed markup. You'll also learn how to quickly and easily create RESTful APIs by leveraging the Express.js framework and deploy your application as a service and implement clustering.

    Three Key Takeaways

    1. Install Node.js and run server-side JavaScript by REPL or file execution
    2. Understand the opportunities Node.js is intended to address
    3. Implement built-in Node.js modules including net and http
  • Lean Writing and Assets Management (2017)

    This workshop focuses on essential steps for in-house communications production for web and social media. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the design principles used to drive messaging in clear, concise terms. Learn how to organize and manage assets in ways that will streamline production, target messages, and optimize brand. Topics include: writing design, language/grammar, photo composition, tagging, keywords and basic html, usability concerns, and assets management. This session condenses a semester course into a few short hours. It will be fast-paced and experiential; ideal for anyone who has to get a web page or social media post (or related print material) out the door quickly and effectively. 

    Three Key Takeaways

    1. Understanding the differences between writing for the web and writing for print can make writing in both areas more consistent and targeted. This workshop will offer strategies and give participants a chance to practice.
    2. When both written and graphical assets are well-managed, communication is faster and more effective. This workshop will lay out organizational methods for asset management specifically to aid in web communication, including SEF and SEO.
    3. Participants will gain a broad-base understanding of usability concerns and how to make web content more compliant. Participants will learn the basics of photo composition, sizing, naming and organizing images, video and other assets.
  • Hands-on Exercise Using Canva, Hootsuite and Sproutsocial for Social Media Management (2017)

    Inside look at a Social Media Approach Using Canva, Hootsuite and Sprout Social. This session will give you an inside look at the tools and approach that is used at the City of Longmont to manage social media. You will learn how to use the graphic design tool Canva. Canva is a great (free) resource to help you create professional graphics without the need for a designer and high end software design tools like Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign. You will also see how we have connected our accounts into Hootsuite and Sprout Social to help with emergency management, and reporting.

    Three Key Takeaways

    1. Learn how to use Canva to create beautiful social media graphics quickly and easily - bring your image assets like your organization logos and we can create graphics for you to use immediately
    2. Register for a Hootsuite and get your social media accounts connected and ready to manage all of your social media accounts in one place
    3. Register for a Sprout Social Account and connect your social media accounts and start managing your comments and run reports in one tool
  • A talk about less talk and more action

    A talk about less talk and more action. (A playbook for how difference makers can make innovation happen faster.) Everyone who works in and around local government at some point feels they can be doing more. So what stops us? My position is that with the proper mindset, tools, communication techniques and methodologies we can move great ideas out of the parking lot and to reality a lot quicker than we might otherwise think.  There are four main sections to the session: Setting the Stage; Where Innovation Comes From; Getting Goodness Out of the Gate; Defining a Project and Running your Sprint; Getting Technical; and Building to Last. Besides those best practices ideas and concepts, I will introduce an essential toolbox of things (methodologies, software and books that I think every webmaster should have in their arsenals.

    Three Key Takeaways

    1. Learning how to make your team an innovation machine
    2. 10 tools and techniques every webmaster must have in their arsenals today
    3. The chance to contribute to and build an actual product during one conference session!
  • Break it to make it stronger: Web Application Penetration Testing Basics

    Question: What's the difference between " 'OR '1'='1" and "%27+OR+%271%27%3D%271?"
    Answer: Nothing, from your web server's perspective. They're both SQL injection statements. The second one is just encoded in a way to bypass your character blacklist filters.

    If that little snippet above made you shudder, you need to come to this session. If you have no idea what the stuff above means, you *really* need to come to this session. Spend a few hours looking at your website from a hacker's perspective. Look for information leaks, learn how to probe your business and code logic, analyze your defenses, and see examples of real-life attacks. Take all this information back to the office and use it to make your website harder/better/faster/stronger.

    Key Takeaways

    • Learn about automated tools that give you a quick baseline view of your website's strengths and weaknesses.
    • Learn manual hacking techniques to go beyond what a quick scan will tell you. 
    • Get a double-handful of security "quick-wins" to implement as soon as you're back in the office.
  • From Zero to Cloud on Amazon Web Services

    It seems like everybody is moving to the cloud! But some people are simply moving on-premise infrastructure into the cloud more or less "as-is". Learn a better way, and get more sleep at night! Amazon Web Services lets you deploy applications and services instead of infrastructure, and these services let you avoid the hassle of infrastructure management and focus on the important thing - providing reliable, easily extensible, auto-scaling user services. We'll learn about the differences between IaaS and PaaS, how to optimize pricing and performance, how budgeting for services is different than for infrastructure, and how to minimize ongoing maintenance.

    To do this, we'll perform a hands-on deployment of a Drupal CMS implementation using Elastic Load Balancer, CloudFormation, Elastic Beanstalk, CloudWatch, Elastic File System, RDS for MySQL and more! Along the way, we'll learn how to set up a "minimal touch" environment using Amazon tools for routine system management and standard DevOps tools for continuous integration and code deployment

    Three Key Takeaways

    1. Learn the important differences between IaaS and PaaS.
    2. Learn what changes are needed when you move from infrastructure to a service-based model.
    3. Learn how you can use services to minimize maintenance and improve availability, performance and functionality.
  • Who is responsible for accessibility? Fully understanding WCAG 2.0 (2017)

    This course is designed for those who have a role in creating and/or maintaining websites and/or web content. Learn the specifics of WCAG 2.0 to make your website more accessible to all users. This includes common design considerations, common barriers, hands-on demonstrations with screen readers, and strategies to maximize accessibility. 

    Three Key Takeaways

    1. Outlining all WCAG 2.0 requirements
    2. Designing for accessibility
    3. Documenting and reporting
  • Google Analytics for Beginners

    In the City of McKinney, we have collected metrics on our various website iterations for the past seven years. While not experts in Google Analytics, we have been able to use the information to make decisions about how to configure our websites, what residents want to see and to satisfy constituents throughout the city. The intent of this session is to share our experience in the hope that opening up our analytics collection and presentation practices might offer useful information for other cities.

    Key Takeaways

    • Google Analytics can be a useful tool for making decisions about a website and resident interests
    • It isn't difficult, you just need to know where to go for the information
    • Keep reports simple with examples


  • Troll Hunting 101

    Anyone who works the social media pages for a government entity knows that trolls can be a way of life, but they don’t have to ruin your groove! This session will focus on strategic messaging on your social media outlets and how to deal with your inevitable detractors (beyond throwing your hands in the air and pushing the “delete" or "ban” buttons). You CAN choose fight over flight and banter over ban — and I’ll show you how to do it so that trolls can actually become a valuable piece of your social media ecosystem. Gather your facts, stretch out your fingers, put on a smile and let’s storm that bridge together! 

    Key Takeaways

    • Not all trolls are the same; learn how to identify different varieties and handle them appropriately 
    • Facts & personality are a winning combination in social media discussions
    • Trolls can actually HELP you win over the rest of your audience; embrace the hater 
  • Webmasters: The Modern-Day Town Criers

    As modern-day Town Criers, the role of the Webmaster is constantly changing.  Today’s communicators must couple constantly evolving technologies with multiple communication channels, while keeping the message clear and informative.

    While the totality of Moore's Law can be debated, there’s no debating the fact that modern day Town Criers have far more responsibility beyond gathering the locals and shouting in the Town Square.  The ease of social media has ushered in an era of excess. However, there is a fine line between informative and over communicating, as Webmasters find themselves competing with elected officials who often want to engage the same audience.
    This entertaining and informative lecture will cover the past, present and future of government communications as it relates to those at the helm of stated communication channels.

    Key Takeaways

    • Historical perspective of our profession
    • Creative and unique ways to reach target audience
    • Organization of content through the most efficient delivery mechanism(s)
  • Open Data Successes (and Failures): Lessons from the Trenches

    The City of Boulder has been "doing" open data for nearly four years. The open data program has had a number of ups and downs over those years and we've learned valuable lessons and insights from our successes and failures. In this session we'll be talking frankly and openly about what we've learned the hard way to help attendees avoid, or at least anticipate, the pitfalls open data practitioners routinely face when trying to "do" open data; and highlighting tested methods and practices to be successful. We'll talk about our recent experiences as a member of What Works Cities and how hiring a Chief Innnovation and Analytics Officer is helping us reach our goal of data-driven decision-making.

    Key Takeaways

    • Key factors to a successful program;
    • Key failures and how to anticipate or avoid them;
    • How part-time work leads to part-time success (and part-time failure);
    • Insights from the What Works Cities process that anyone can use
  • DIY UX Testing (2017)

    Many problems that come up after a new site or app launches could have been avoided with a few usability tests. Unfortunately, testing is often considered too expensive or as taking too long, but it doesn't have to be. There are simple and affordable tools that can be used to test websites, web apps, navigation, information architecture, and content. This session will review free and low-cost tools and methods for conducting tests and how and when to use them.

    Key Takeaways

    • What to test - how to identify potential problem areas for testing.
    • When to test - picking the right time in a project to introduce testing.
    • How to test - tools and tips for testing quickly and inexpensively.
  • Testing for Accessibility (2017)

    How do you test for accessibility compliance? There are many tools out there. During this session, I will outline the strategies and tools we use to make sure the content is accessible by all. I will also cover the template we use for reporting issues. 

    Key Takeaways

    • Testing strategy
    • Automated and manual testing
    • Reporting template
  • Social Media Stories: How to Communicate Government Information in the Land of Emojis

    Social Media "Stories" have been introduced through various platforms as an effective communication tool. Come learn the ins and outs of sharing your agency's mission through the "Story" format to engage your audience. Participants will leave this session armed with answers to questions about how government can communicate in "Stories", how to develop a strong strategy for using "Stories" and how to address accessibility and records management issues. This session is not an endorsement of any particular social media platform that utilizes the "Story" format.

    Key Takeaways

    • Participants will learn how to take content they already have and modify it to make it appropriate for the Social Media "Stories" platform. This will include tactics on how to make a potentially dry topic seem more engaging to a younger audience and how to use Social Media "mascots" to make government Social Media "Stories" accounts more friendly.
    • Participants will leave the session with an understanding about how to formulate a Social Media "Stories" content strategy. This will include information about how frequently they should post on Social Media "Stories" and how to use emoijs in a way that makes sense and strengthens a message.
    • Participants will understand the ways they can store stories they create in Social Media "Stories" for use on other platforms and learn about ways to make their Social Media "Stories" content as accessible as possible. 
  • Look who's TAWKing - using Tawk, an embedded web chat client, for citizen engagement (2017)

    Join us as we review Larimer County's pilot of Tawk, a no cost solution for adding real time chat capabilities to our vehicle licensing page. The repetitive ring of 'Now Serving' is going the way of the Dodo as online solutions, such as TAWK, allow the citizens to connect with the County online and in real time. We review the tool, it's features and lessons learned in bringing it online.

    Key Takeaways

    • Does real time chat have a home on your website?
    • Steps to spin up and test the Tawk chat solution with little effort and no cost
    • Tips and tricks used to aide staff in providing quick and accurate info to the citizens
  • Section 508 Refresh: Understanding the New Requirements

    Section 508 standards are federal acquisition requirements that apply to information and communications technology (ICT) that is used, developed, procured, maintained, or used by federal agencies. The standards promote ICT that can be accessed by the public and employees with disabilities. The current standards became effective 15 years ago and great effort has been made to update (or “refresh”) Section 508 to harmonize the standards with guidelines for Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act.
    The final ruling for the Section 508 Refresh was published in the Federal Register in January 2017, with an effective date of one year after the publication date. The Section 508 Refresh will include a broad application of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, and many features that currently meet Section 508 requirements will no longer be compliant under WCAG 2.0.

    Key Takeaways

    • The expected timeline and application requirements for the Section 508 Refresh
    • Key differences between the current Section 508 requirements and the new Refresh requirements
    • The necessary testing types and techniques to ensure compliance with the proposed requirements
  • 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.
  • 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!).
  • 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.
  • Employee Notifications - from the cloud and lightning fast (2017)

    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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Two Website Migrations and a Redesign: What We Learned (2017)

    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. 
  • 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
  • Digital Services Websites Improve Government for Everyone (2017)


    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.
    • Creating Emotionally Engaging Places

      Join Alliance for Innovation Senior Fellow Peter Kageyama for a session on creating emotionally engaging places.  Peter is the author of For the Love of Cities and the follow up, Love Where You Live.  Peter speaks about how community leaders need to be intentional about creating a more emotionally engaging, lovable place.  These lovable cities are magnets for talented workers, entrepreneurs and businesses alike.  Peter talks about the expanded role that local government needs to play in creating this atmosphere of engagement and the ways, both big and small, that the city can partner with citizens to build great places.

    • What Hath Digital Technology Wrought? A Look at Government in 2025.

      Marc will share his perspectives on the ways in which today’s technology will evolve in the next 7 to 10 years. How will these changes affect what government webmasters do and how they do it? Consider today’s hot button tech issues: social media, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, transparency, big data, and more. How will they change the way government meets its obligations to its clients, constituents, and consumers? This session will focus on what we can expect, and how we can prepare for what we will encounter on the road ahead.

    • 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. 

    • Making 3rd Party Platforms Accessible

      This session will provide insight into successfully integrating with 3rd party technologies and platforms to ensure conformance with ADA-related digital accessibility requirements. In addition, technical recommendations for remediation and understanding key elements of accessibility regulations will be covered.


      Key Takeaways        

      • Accessibility 101: Guidelines, Regulations, and the Law
      •  3rd Party Platforms & Common Errors of Accessibility
      • Asking the Right Questions: Make Sure Your Solution Does This …
    • Enhance Citizen Experience Through Your Website

      Your citizens looks to you for information about city services, community programs, maintenance alerts, breaking news, upcoming events and more. We’re here to help you deliver it all with ease through your website.  We will begin the session by discussing the ROI your agency can get from a modern citizen-focused website. Attendees will then receive practical tips, examples and best practices for website design and content that can enhance the citizen experience by making it easier for citizens to find the information they’re looking for and engage with their government.

      Key Takeaways:

      • How to calculate the ROI of a fully-functional, modern website
      • How to improve service delivery through your government website
      • How to foster two-way communication and engagement between your government and its citizens
      • How to enhance the citizen experience with a usable website
    • CGDSP Certification Class (2017)

      • Welcome
        • Alan Shark, Executive Director, PTI
        • Leslie Labrecque, MSCIT, President/Director At Large/Executive Committee Chair, NAGW​
        • Katya Wowk, Communications Director, Township of Montclair, New Jersey
      • Introductory Session: Student Knowledge Exercise
      • Course and Program Review, Policies and Procedures
      • State of the Profession
      • The New Digital Services Professional – Ingredients for Success – What Does this Job Description Really Look Like?
      • Common Challenges and Strategies
      • Review of assignments and certification details
      • Adjourn
    • 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.