USDA Seeks to Lay Out Digital Service Best Practices
The playbook says that it aims make it easier for UX designers to make and keep their websites focused on “providing the best experiences to your customers: the American agricultural producers and consumers who rely on your sites.”
It outlines the multiple mandates websites must follow and helps designers find resources and expert advice to meet those mandates.
There are seven criteria the playbook outlines:
- Research: Designers should get a better understanding of what their customer needs. They can use this section to “learn about methods to gain insights into your customers and keep them at the center of your design and development efforts,” the guide says.
- Analytics: Improve metrics to make better data-driven decisions. Designers should follow USDA’s Google Analytics standards to fix common issues, improve site performance and generate more useful reports.
- Content: Make it easier for customers to find a website’s content. This section is aimed at letting designers perform content audits, update content strategy and make content more findable with search engine optimization.
- Accessibility: Remove barriers to content and reach the widest possible audience. Designers should remove technological barriers through accessible and responsive web design.
- Design and Brand: Build a unique website for the agency that looks “USDA Official.” Designers can use this section to “create a visually distinctive website” that still meets USDA brand and visual design guidelines.
- Development: Designers can use this to better understand guidance and use code libraries to build and update their site.
- Social Media: This includes specific USDA guidance for managing social media channels to amplify the agency’s news, mission and goals.
In addition to the PMA, agencies now need to follow mandates set out in the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act, which, as Federal News Network notes, “set deadlines for agencies to adopt electronic signatures and migrate away from paper-based processes.”
While some agencies have accelerated those efforts during the pandemic, government still generally lags behind the private sector on those fronts.
Amira Boland, the Office of Management and Budget’s federal customer experience lead, says agencies are “closing the gap” and working to improve the customer experience.
“There’s a growing recognition that experience matters in government, even though we are a monopoly provider in many cases, and that people have to pay their taxes every year,” Boland tells Federal News Network. “That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be thinking about the customer experience that doesn’t help us deliver a more effective and efficient government.”