2019 Conference Sessions

    Plain Writing for Better Government Communications
    by Phil Walls

    Description: In this session, you will learn the requirements of the Plain Writing Act of 2010 as well as how to implement plain writing through examples and hands-on exercises.
    Accessibility 101
    by John Northrup

    Description: Few people today can imagine life without the Internet. No other single invention has been more revolutionary since Gutenberg's printing press in the 1400s. Now, the world is at your fingertips—if you can use a mouse... and see the screen... and hear the audio—in other words, if you don't have a disability of any kind. This introduction will help you understand how citizens with disabilities use the web, the frustrations they feel, and what you can do to make your content more accessible.

    HTML5 and CSS - A Hands-On Primer
    by Paulette Neal-Allen

    Description: This 4-hour pre-conference session will be a hands-on exploration of HTML5 and CSS, including the new HTML5 document structure tags, HTML5 video capability, and advanced CSS style rules that work hand-in-hand with HTML5. We will also explore the HTML5 input elements that allow you to capture user input in a more intuitive way and that instant, client side data validation.

    Eureka: Built on Drupal
    by Gregg Turnbull & Allen Masters

    Description: In this pre-conference adventure, participants will work together to build a Drupal based site for the fictional city of Eureka. Along the way we will review the building blocks of Drupal - modules, themes, menus, blocks, user management, site hosting, and more. During our session we will be faced with twists and turns as we field interesting requests from city leadership.

    Creating Accessibility Policy and Culture
    by Cyndi Rowland

    Description: When organizations have difficulty implementing accessibility system-wide, it's almost always due to a shortcoming in one of four areas: A shared commitment, a concrete policy and plan, sufficient support for personnel, or ongoing evaluation. While it’s tempting to focus on technical standards and reports, it helps to step back and evaluate the true root of the problem. If these four elements are addressed, accessibility will follow.

    Building an Open Data Portal with Initiatives powered by ArcGIS Hub
    by Andrew Turner & Nick O’Day

    Description: Are you interested in learning how to build an engaging open data portal that reflects the uniqueness of your municipality and also helps drive understanding in your community? If so, then this pre-conference seminar is for you. Bring your laptop, city/county logo, and your login information for ArcGIS Online and build the bones of your new open data portal in ArcGIS Hub. ArcGIS Hub is an exciting, cloud-based platform offered by Esri that makes it easy to build an open data portal centered around topics that your community cares about. This seminar will be led by Andrew Turner, Esri’s Product Owner for Hub and Nick O’Day, Chief Data Officer for the City of Johns Creek, GA.

    Make Like a Tree: Leaving Day-To-Day Operations to A.I.
    by Muthu Sampath

    Description: A.I. and machine learning technology can automate government workflows which have traditionally required significant human investments in field work and data analysis. This session will walk through how street-level imagery powered by A.I. scales up data collection and extraction for asset inventory, site surveys, and other resource-intensive operations. We will showcase an example of a leaf-season operation in a major city, with hands-on demonstrations of the web and mobile applications used.

    Building Trust & Understanding through Open Data
    by Nick O'Day | View Nick's Slides

    Description: This session will focus on the successes of the City of Johns Creek, Georgia's work in driving transparency, fostering trues, and cultivating understanding through its award-winning open data portal and associated dashboards, charts, maps, and Alexa skill. Learn about how any sized city or county can leverage common tools to deliver rich experiences for citizens and staff that help shift debate to fact instead of conjecture and foster understanding instead of suspicion.

    The Great Debate: To Hide or Delete that Comment
    by Anil Chawla

    Description: An unsavory comment shows up on Facebook. It violates your policy. You hide it. Right? Wrong! Participate in our live debate featuring real examples and case studies. Hear from your peers on #TeamHide and #TeamDelete in a session hosted by ArchiveSocial CEO, Anil Chawla.

    Building a Citywide Web Accessibility Strategy
    by Karen Pellegrin & Chad Menard | View Karen and Chad's Slides

    Description: Whether you're rebuilding your whole website or just addressing basic accessibility issues on your current site, making sure it meets and continuously maintains accessibility standards can be incredibly challenging. Learn how the Denvergov web team took a multi-faceted approach to tackling digital accessibility through robust research, content audits, standards & guidelines, training programs, and pushing user experience efforts as much as possible, all while leveraging every resource they had.

    Finding a Needle in a Haystack - with Cludo
    by Gregg Turnbull | See Gregg's Slides

    Description: Google's Site Search left the marketplace toward the end of 2017 and Larimer County was left with a large void in meeting citizens search needs who visited our site.First, we developed homegrown search but never met the expectations of our citizens who were growing more search minded, and more dependent on the results. It was here were we found Cludo. This session we will cover items to consider when selecting (or building) site search and how it is ever more important to have one that works.

    Accessibility for Huge Agency Websites via WCAG-EM
    by Peter Shikli | View Peter's Slides

    Description: Huge agency websites are no longer unusual. Although making them entirely accessible isn't practical, compliance to Title II of the ADA and Section 508 is still required. The WCAG-EM methodology set forth by the W3C, the same folks who brought us the WCAG standard, sets out the steps to identify the substantial part of such a huge website from the disabled user's perspective.

    Tame the Content Beast – Transform Your Content From Unread to User-friendly
    by Lynn Stuart | View Lynn's Slides

    Description: Faced with a redesign for a website full of pages of dense, unwieldy, jargon-filled content, what do you do? We decided to rewrite every scrap of content. Join me to learn how we convinced staff to let go of the words, crafted compelling content standards and managed the process for this two-year-long effort. You’ll also learn about GatherContent, a collaborative tool instrumental in our success, that allows you to create, edit, review and organize the production of your content.

    Where users click: let data inform your decisions towards navigation nirvana
    by Susanne Wiggins & Namita Acharya | View Susanne and Namita's Slides

    Description: How do you begin to build site navigation when you’re told all the topics are important? When the topics span an incredible range? When the list is a mile long? By collecting user experience data, let your site audience show you the way. In this session, we’ll explore the process of moving from navigational chaos to clarity with budget-friendly tools and data-informed decisions, using examples from our redesign projects.

    Tackling Gargantuan Accessibility Challenges: VA Case Study
    by Blake Scates | View Blake's Slides
    Description: This session examines how the Veterans Health Administration successfully eliminated more than 1.7 million accessibility issues over a 3-year period. The discussion elicits a renewed call to action for making digital assets more accessible by highlighting the work done at the Department of Veterans Affairs to make health care resources more accessible to our nation's Veterans.

    Visualized, Interactive Data that Doesn't Break the Bank
    by Diana Cleland | View Diana's Slides

    Description: Do you think those cool drill-down pie charts are beyond your resources? Think again. Learn how to present your data with an interactive pie chart or bar chart. And get tips on how to streamline data updates so it stays current. This is a low code, economical solution for organizations just starting to delve into this area.

    USAGov’s Email Marketing: Tips, Tricks, and Lessons Learned
    by Claire Loxsom

    Description: A deep dive into the email marketing program run at USAGov. The presentation will include how we plan and market to our different lists/focuses, how we work with other agencies on email campaigns, how we collect data to make content decisions, etc.

    How we used a website redesign to transform Boston's approach to digital
    by Lauren Lockwood

    Description: For many people, their first interaction with government involves rage-clicking through a dusty, antiquated website. It’s no wonder so many agencies are investing in website redesigns. As we rebuilt Boston.gov, we leveraged experience from other cities and used the project to transform the city’s approach to digital. In this session, we’ll go through specifics of the project, things we got wrong, and how the project became a wedge for culture change and better interactions with our constituents.

    Video Tips For The Non-Videographer
    by Jen Snyder

    Description: Video is now a must-have when it comes to having successful social media outreach. Whether it’s shooting video on the fly with your smartphone or live-streaming on social media, learn how you can use easily available, and oftentimes fairly inexpensive technology and gadgets to create visually compelling content. 
    Serving Your Staff as Well as Your Community: Building Digital Services Intranets
    by Cynthia Francis and Rachel Burbank | View Cynthia and Rachel's Slides

    Description: Recently, local government webmasters have begun moving to a services-led approach to their websites. By empathizing with the community and creating better online options for engagement, the website changes for the better. But the intranet solutions for local governments are still stuck in 2001. What happens when a city adopts a services first model for their employees?  
    Being a mentor in a time-crunched industry
    by Paulette Neal-Allen | View Paulette's Slides

    Description: As soon as a newer employee is hired in your department, you become a mentor whether you want to or not. Come to this session to learn how to take an informal mentor relationship a step further into a more formal arrangement.

    UX lessons from testing government websites
    by Chuck Johnston

    Description: "We opened our usability lab in 2015 and have tested over a thousand different users. This presentation is based on a new study we're conducting testing various government websites. We will share what we learned and provide recommendations for making a better user experience on government websites. The presentation is based on observing real people visiting real sites."

    Logiforms (A full featured replacement for complex PDFs)
    by Allen Masters

    Description: Over the years, I developed many complex Adobe PDFs containing calculations, database, workflows, cool FDFs sending perfect results to happy customers. But, then came the browser wars. PDFs would only run in Internet Explorer. It was almost like Netscape all over again. So, we found a new solution for our complex PDFs, Logiforms. As I am not heavily invested in Logiform stock, I will give a demoonstation, answer questions, and have an open discussion about other products.

    Making Information Easy: Creating Accessible, User-Friendly Digital Tools Powered by GIS
    by Rachael Taft | View Rachel's Slides

    Description: GIS is a powerful source of information, but how do you make that information accessible to the public in a simple, user friendly way? This session covers how Manatee County changed our approach to GIS applications, bringing a new focus to user experience – including accessibility, mobile responsiveness, user testing and more. We’ll address best practices and explore the successes and challenges we faced developing a new suite of online tools, including our popular Resident Information Tool.

    Improve website usability by implementing a “consumer decision journey” into your social strategy
    by Alexandra Blasser

    Description: Many brands use a “consumer decision journey” approach to reach target audiences at moments throughout their decision-making process. This approach can be applied to your government agency’s initiatives so that digital and social media can deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Government agencies on the national, state and local level can apply many of these best practices to significantly improve digital and social media efforts as a way to improve website usability.

    Less is More! Content Audits for Cluttered Sites
    by Laura Scott | View Laura's Slides

    Description: Are you looking to improve your website without spending money? Government websites tend to become a filing cabinet and doing a content audit is a free way to give your website new life. Following the right steps will make site information easier to find, improve SEO, provide an overall better user experience and help you prepare for a redesign. Let’s talk about content audit best practices and lessons learned.

    How to share a story about your community using a podcast
    by Matthew Vanderhorst | View Matthew's Slides

    Description: The City of Montgomery will share the process it took to create a podcast to commemorate one of the most tragic days in the City's history, an F-4 tornado that devastated part of the community. Items that will be covered include the process to conduct the interviews; process to edit and publish the podcast, and the importance of using storytelling to share the history of a community. Tips and lessons learned will be discussed as well.

    Using WAVE to Evaluate the Accessibility of your Website
    by Jonathan Whiting

    Description: There are many good accessibility evaluation tools, but the truth is truth is many accessibility issues cannot be automatically detected by any tool. WAVE is a free online tool that makes manual evaluation more efficient by adding icons to your page to show accessibility information that is usually hidden. Learn how WAVE can help testers of all levels--newer testers learn more about what why an issue matters and how to fix it, and seasoned testers can use WAVE to explore the underlying HTML.

    The robots are coming: What we’ve learned from our first chatbot
    by Jessica Milcetich | View Jessica's Slides

    Description: Everyone’s talking about artificial intelligence and how it can help solve problems. But AI isn’t a silver bullet. In this session, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how USAGov launched its first chatbot and hear the good, the bad and the ugly about what we’ve learned since. We’ll walk through the opportunities chatbots present, challenges you might face if you want to set one up and tips for how you can experiment with AI with limited resources and budget.

    Live Chat for City (or Any) Government
    by James Buratti | View James's Slides

    Description: In an effort to reach our users where they are, the City of Pflugerville, TX implemented live chat on our city’s main website and three city subsites. After a pilot test with two different chat vendors we added chat to our most public facing departments - Utility Billing, Library, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, and Development Services. Beyond adding an addition line of communication that mimics texting, the city mines its chat data to improve its website content and unify messaging.

    How to Write Absolutely Everything Better, Faster, and More Effectively
    by Michael Long | View Michael's Slides

    Description: Georgetown University lecturer Michael Long transforms the toughest writing jobs into step-by-step methods any communicator can master. By learning to first identify both the purpose of a document and the elements it requires, a writer can “snap together” written work quickly and easily. The result is writing that gets to the point more immediately and that achieves its purpose more effectively, with less stress and worry for the writer – and a significant savings of time. 

    To Site Search And Beyond
    by Joe Izenman

    Description: In the age of Google, search is an essential part of web experience. Many users ignore site architecture altogether, embracing a search first mindset. A poor site search experience will send users out of your web ecosystem, and back to their search engine of choice. In this session, we’ll tackle the value of custom solutions; the process of choosing, implementing and testing search platforms; the risks of over-tuned results; and the opportunities provided by a robust search strategy.

    Writing That Puts the Reader First
    by Jo Marsicano | View Jo's Slides

    Description: Government web writing is often wordy and complex. The reader loses out on meaning, task completion and trust. Web readers have needs. We can champion those needs by applying the science of reading. We can challenge government speak, and work collaboratively with subject matter experts. We can promote readability as part of usability. As we do this, we can write for the reader. Putting the reader first creates content people can find, understand and use.

    10 Website and Document Accessibility Errors You Can Fix Now
    by Jacob Riff & Paul Rayius | View Jacob and Paul's Slides

    Description: A new set of federal web accessibility guidelines, WCAG 2.1, were released in 2018. Has your organization struggled with meeting the new requirements? Have you wondered where to begin in order to fix all the accessibility errors on your website? Getting started doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking and making your website more compliant can be done without materially impacting its design. There are 10 simple errors on your website that your organization can quickly fix in order to make it more accessible for a wider audience. These can be found in your site’s navigation, structure, text, hyperlinks, forms, images, videos and documents.