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10 Tips for Developing Modern Municipal Websites

Did you know currently there are lots of new trends in Municipal Web Design? This may seem odd to you but many of these trends aren’t new at all. Municipal WebSites tend to stay the same for a very long time and when sites where updated they tended to choose more dated looks, but fear not it doesn’t have to be this way with a some proper planning and if you keep aware of these things you can have the beautiful helpful website of your Municipalities dreams.

10.Let the pictures do the design work.

Throughout my time developing municipal websites I have seen many of the trends in Municipal Design and I am not a fan of very many. Often times small to medium municipalities have sites that show their age either through overuse of images and gradients in design or due to a complete lack of design. As I entered into the corporate world the flat heavily web app influenced UI’s of websites had just started to rise in popularity. I was captivated by the simplicity and beauty of the very Swiss influenced design. At that time there weren’t many practical ways to apply it to municipal sites but it just simply hadn’t been done. Now it is currently the most commonly requested style with many sites having very little going on in the way of graphics, but this simplicity truly shines if you know how to take advantage of it, and relying on photography as a key design element is one of the best ways you can create stunning websites simply using the photo as the core to the design and the lack of many images will still allow for amazing load times.

9. Avoid Hokey Imagery

Many times you will see it overly photoshopped trees in the headers. Attempting to put a national flag in just about anything that can fit it, while yes some cheesy imagery can work in sites with a more cartoonish appeal it is hard to be taken seriously by your citizens if your site looks like a cartoon.

8. Make Information clear and present

This is the big one because the only real purpose of a municipal site is to provide your citizens with the tools to find the information they need, but this many sites still lack in this area. Clear menus targeted towards your demographic are an excellent way to make it easy for people to find what they need in an efficient manner.

7. Make sure information is accessible to the impaired

People with physical impairments still rely on municipal websites just as much as others if not even more. The design should be clear with a fairly large main navigation font if you would like more information on making your website accessible to everyone please check out The ADA for more information.

6. Let past design trends stay in the past

Many firms stick to what they are good at when designing and although it is always good to play to your strengths eventually you must evolve trends in design are constantly evolving and changing, and you do not want to appear to be behind technologically. Even though the purpose of a municipal site is present simply for citizen business and visitor information familiarity is important too, and as design changes familiarity shifts people will struggle navigating a more dated site if it is not what they are used to. This does not mean jump on every design band wagon but be aware when it is time to move on.

5. Always make it mobile

Mobile friendliness is a key to design and development of all sorts these days search engines prioritize sites that can be viewed easily on all devices and if you consider how often sites are viewed via mobile device rather than a computer you will see that clean easy to read information important. Which brings me to the next item.

4. Use a framework

Although often times frameworks contain items you do not need for development you can trim many packages but even without doing such I always recommend using a framework making a municipal site is often a daunting task they tend to have a massive page count and making sure each page looks nice on all devices can drastically increase development time using a mobile framework will allow you to make your site quickly in manner that will cause limited cross-browser and device issues.

3. Properly compress Images

When many one of our competitors develops sites I always notice one issue Images that should be crisp are compressed in a manner that smooths the image with lot’s of anti-aliasing, or sometimes the image is dar sharper and grainier than it should be. Keep in mind to look at the sampling method used when resizing In photoshop.

2. Use web-fonts and icon-fonts

I have Seen a lot of sites to this day that still use images to display fonts and lettering. Take advantage of the tools available Google has a massive font library available foe web use and if a specific font is needed that isn’t available there take advantage of the @font-face CSS rule and upload your own. The same goes for Icon Fonts why upload heavy graphics when you can link to a CSS file and use beautiful and scalable icons with just a simple HTML tag.

1. Organize Content

The most important aspect of any site is the content and Municipal sites are some of the most written content heavy sites of them all but organization of the content is often treated as an after thought by many clients I have worked with. Remember to make sure your content is clearly Marked and Organized your Designers and Developers will be grateful. Come up with consistent naming schemes and folder hierarchies to make moving content into your new site as quick as possible. This will also save you many headaches as that content will be easily built upon and make it unlikely that you will cause confusion or mistakes in things.