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Addressing Administration priorities on .gov websites

Addressing Administration priorities on .gov websites

By Joshua DeLung

This is part two of a four-part blog series on strategically addressing internal and external stakeholder needs on .gov websites. Read the first post here.

Last time, I wrote about the many directions in which government agency web managers are pulled each day. There are several key internal and external stakeholder groups competing for your resources and attention every day. And before you can develop a governance strategy that accounts for them all, you need to know what you’re dealing with — what does each audience want, and how can you help them?

I already talked about serving your primary audience of end users. But there is another very important audience that may trump even your first-line stakeholders from time to time: The Administration.

Political priorities: Where do they fit?

The White House and all the political appointees at your agency certainly make the Administration’s agenda known to those working in public affairs shops. While web managers have a responsibility to end users, they will always feel the pressure of responding to front office requests (usually at the last minute) for .gov website additions. This isn’t always bad — regardless of the Administration in place, there are plenty of good things happening in government that agencies should be proud to promote. But they may not always align with the information that is most pertinent to the end user, which creates the need for establishing a balance.

To ensure the Administration understands how your agency’s website supports the mission, try:

  • Alignment: All new online content and campaigns should align with Administration and agency strategic priorities. However, if those priorities could conflict with the interests of your primary target audience, speak up. Your governance documentation should include a process that gives you some leverage to propose giving well-performing end-user content priority over one-off requests.
  • Reporting: Provide understandable, visual metrics reports in the form of dashboards to senior executives. They have neither the time nor the technical expertise to interpret all the data the web team uses to make decisions. But high-level stats that show results such as top-performing content, actions completed by end users and similar gauges provide invaluable insights for officials. Regular reporting is also an opportunity to show supporting analytics that make an argument for continuing, archiving or starting an online initiative.
  • Flexibility and responsiveness: You have limited resources and real estate on your website. But it’s essential that you’re flexible and responsive to the highest levels of authority. Have contingency plans in place, and set aside time each week for any ad hoc requests. Create and enforce your governance structure in order to provide quick answers on how, or whether, something will get done and when.

Next time, I’ll discuss program offices and Congress as stakeholders who have influence on agency websites, then write about the ultimate goal here, which is answering the question, “Just how do I balance all these competing requests for attention?”

Image courtesy Flickr user Tom Lohdan

About Joshua DeLung

Senior Director of Communication Services, specializes in strategy, public relations, writing/editing and social media.

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