Design with a human approach: why digital government solutions should be guided by the citizen experience
Digital Government
March 16, 2023

Design with a human approach: why digital government solutions should be guided by the citizen experience

As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of digital government solutions, it's crucial to remember that any chosen software must prioritize the human experience. There is an underlying responsibility to design digital government software that is simultaneously functional, empathetic, and intuitive. This is the best way to ensure that the technology will truly serve the needs of citizens. By placing the citizen experience at the forefront of the design process, municipalities and software providers can co-create solutions that are not only efficient, but also more impactful for all members of society. 

It was predicted that by 2023, 60% of governments will have integrated human-centred design techniques into their digital service design process. Now that we’re almost a quarter of the way through the year, it’s important to understand how designing with a human approach will get governments closer to these digital goals.

A human approach is key to understanding the citizen experience

Digital government solutions are created to serve citizens, and therefore, it is essential to listen to the voice of citizen to understand their needs, expectations, and pain points. By putting the citizen at the centre of the design process, government agencies can gain valuable insights into how they can improve the user experience. Citizens' feedback can help identify areas where the solution can be made more intuitive, efficient, and effective. For instance, if citizens have difficulty navigating through a government website, it is essential to understand where they get stuck and what can be done to improve their experience.

Designing for accessibility removes barriers and widens the net of end users

Designing digital government solutions with accessibility in mind is essential because it promotes equal access to information and services for all citizens, including those with limited abilities. It can also help governments to comply with legal requirements and avoid potential legal challenges. The design of digital government solutions should take into account the different needs of citizens, including those with disabilities. For example, the website should have alternative text for images, subtitles for videos, and a high-contrast design for users with visual impairments. A design that is accessible is not just catered to those with disabilities, it also ensures that everyone can use the solution easily and without barriers. ​​ 

Prioritizing user testing sets your new technology up for success

User testing is an essential part of the design process. It allows designers to validate assumptions and identify potential issues before the solution is released to the public. User testing provides valuable insights into how citizens will actually interact with the solution and identifies potential areas for improvement. This approach ensures that the final solution meets citizens' needs and expectations and reduces the risk of costly redesigns or updates after launch.

Well-designed citizen experiences lead to increased government trust

Getting customer experience right matters. CX is ultimately a perception of how government delivers services—how it accomplishes its mission. Well-designed citizen experiences can play a crucial role in increasing trust between citizens and their government. When citizens interact with government services and agencies, they form impressions and opinions based on their experiences. Positive experiences, such as easy-to-use interfaces, clear communication, and prompt response times, can build trust and confidence in government. Conversely, negative experiences, such as confusing procedures, long wait times, and unresponsive staff, can erode trust and undermine citizens' perception of the government's ability to serve their needs. Therefore, investing in digital solutions doesn’t just mean taking something off the shelf and hoping that it works. Working with a software vendor to customize the user experience based on your citizens’ expectations will help your municipality to build a positive reputation, improve transparency, and ultimately strengthen your relationships with citizens.

Designing for citizen empowerment is the ultimate goal

Digital government solutions should empower citizens by providing them with the information and tools they need to make informed decisions. For example, a solution that provides citizens with access to their health records empowers them to make informed decisions about their health. A design that empowers citizens encourages them to engage with the solution and take an active role in the delivery of public services.

A human-centric design approach is essential when creating digital government solutions. By truly understanding the way people will actually interact throughout the citizen experience helps governments to deliver solutions and services that are intuitive, easy to use, and meet citizens' needs. With a human approach, digital governments can simultaneously improve public services, increase citizen engagement, and build ongoing municipal trust.

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