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The Best Government Websites We’ve Seen in 2019

This is the last part of a series highlighting our 2019 top website picks across mission-driven industries. If you haven’t already, check out our favorite nonprofit, higher education, and association websites!

For too long, government agencies have been behind the curve in digital technology. We can all think of a time we’ve accessed an agency website to find it bland, unengaging, and often, dehumanizing. The mere sight of “.gov” is enough to make most of us cringe.

At Mighty Citizen, we believe the connections we make with our audiences should be authentic and emotional, and that’s no different for the government agencies we work with. The work that any agency does is meant to be in the best interest of the people they serve, so their web strategy and research should position them well to build authentic and emotional connections with the public.

For our final “best of” websites article for 2019, these government agencies caught our eye:

Georgia.gov

Our first agency on the list takes us to the Peach State! Georgia.gov is a beautiful website. The color scheme in particular is attractive, with a peach tone that calls back to their moniker.

IDEO, a global design company, conducted research with the state of Georgia “to explore how it could give more than 80 state agencies flexibility in the look and feel of their websites, while also preserving a uniform branding experience that residents could recognize and trust.” The study engaged Georgians to discover how their government was interacting with them, and to better understand the services citizens both want and need to access.

Georgia’s new website is a perfect example of a government website that truly engages its residents. IDEO surveyed Georgians after the launch, and they described the website as warm, welcoming, and approachable. It doesn’t get much better than a government website that is actually “approachable.” The user is greeted with clean design and a simple question: How can we help you? There’s a search bar that residents can use to search for various topics, services, and more. The beauty is in the simplicity. They have quick links to their top-accessed services like taxes and refunds or registering to vote, which are well-incorporated in the design. Every page feels seamless and easy to navigate. It’s clear that this is a website built with the public in mind!

By asking “How can we help you” up front, it’s immediately clear that this website is a resource for Georgians.
The design incorporates inviting colorways that make the website more approachable.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

A unique challenge for agency websites is the sheer amount of information that must be shared. Sometimes, less is more, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ website proves that point.

If users generally access an agency website for information, the best government website design lets the user get in and out quickly. The VA website is simply designed, and the organization of information is front and center, accomplishing that goal. There are two ways to access resources from the homepage, both as you scroll and through the menu at the top. There are clear sections that make it easy to find what you need.

The experience is particularly nice through the drop-down menu, where you can navigate all your high-level topics on the left side. As you click each one, a different set of relevant resources populates. From there, you can still access the main page for each topic and scroll through all the resources available. This website feels like three iterations of the same information tied neatly together in an intuitive way.

The VA website is simple and easy to navigate.
Information can be accessed from both the homepage and the extensive menu drop-down.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This isn’t a list of best agency names, but we’d like to go on record that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just sounds cool. Now, back to business.

In each of our “best of” lists so far, there’s been that one website with design elements that are downright impressive. This is that website. The imagery alone is dynamic, but the way the content flows and is tied together makes this a damn good government website. The iconography on the left has a uniform aesthetic that looks good on the page. The icons pull out into a menu where most of the content lives, from resources about NOAA topics like weather, climate, research, education, and more.

Within each of those topics is a main page that replaces the main image and header text while keeping the icons and menu on the left. It’s a modular approach that divides the content in an attractive and engaging way, encouraging visitors to dive deeper within topics. This site has a ton of content, but the visuals and design elements are so consistent that the site feels completely manageable for those interested in NOAA’s mission and focus areas, creating a truly helpful online experience.

The iconography on the left showcases NOAA’s areas of focus in a visual way.
As you toggle through the topic areas, the main content changes with new imagery and relevant information.

GOV.UK

Speaking of simplicity, the GOV.UK website wrote the book. In the same vein as the VA, this website takes a massive amount of information and makes it easy to navigate. It takes an even more stripped-down approach, and famously so. This is a website based on simplicity and deep conversations with users, exactly what a government website should try to accomplish.

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Any resource or service you need can be accessed or searched for from the homepage. Many times, when there is so much information to be organized, web designers create high-level topic categories that are too general. GOV.UK defines high-level categories, but also includes the specific areas covered under each one right there on the page. For example, if a resident wanted to learn about voting or how to register to vote, they could click “citizenship and living in the UK” after seeing that voting is listed underneath it.

While it’s not heavy on visual appeal, the blend of simple and intuitive design works very well, making this government website an easy add to our list of favorites for the year!

The GOV.UK website is another example of simple, yet effective content strategy.
Users can find all the information and resources they need by navigating the drop-down menu.

U.S. Department of State

Close your eyes. Now, picture in your mind a typical government website. Open your eyes. Did the website you imagined look like the U.S. Department of State’s website? I bet it did. It’s very classic, very formal. In the same breath, it also feels refreshed and subtly reinvented.

From a design perspective, the homepage flows seamlessly. Every element feeds into the next, and the colorways look beautiful. Seriously, there’s something about that classic navy blue, white, and gold that is really working. When you first scroll, each section is tacked on to the last by fading in. There are quite a few websites that we’ve highlighted that stood out because of subtle animation like this that makes all the difference in the feel of the website.

This website evokes patriotic sentiments without being over the top. The wavy background, gold stars, and underlines are perfectly subtle design elements that call back to traditional symbols of the United States without plastering bald eagles or American flags everywhere. The purpose is clear, the information is clear, and nothing feels clinical.

The U.S. Department of State website has a classic touch and a refreshed feel.
Different sections of the website incorporate design elements that all work together nicely.
Each policy issue can be accessed from the menu with its own page for more information.

Concluding our series of the best websites from mission-driven industries in 2019, we hope you’re inspired to implement some changes to your own website to help you better engage and connect with your audiences. Keep an eye on our Insights for more tools and resources for 2020 and beyond!

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