Enhancing the inclusion of digital public services across Aotearoa, New Zealand
The New Zealand Government has been faster than most countries to lay out a clear digital inclusion roadmap and, more recently, a national Digital Strategy that recognises the importance of inclusion for success. This has led to great strides in accessibility as government services move further online. However, there are still cohorts of citizens at risk of being left behind if certain issues are not addressed.
To help governments identify the challenges their citizens face when finding, accessing, and engaging with digital government services, Adobe has developed the Government Digital Performance and Inclusion (GDPI) Indicator. The GDPI Indicator is a world-first measure of the digital efficacy of online public service delivery.
Using this measure, Adobe has evaluated the performance of five Aotearoa, New Zealand government websites that together deliver a significant portion of all essential public services, information, and support. The websites were assessed via user testing and third-party tools across three core categories—citizen experience, site performance and digital equity.
It revealed a national score of 58 out of 100, which classifies Aotearoa New Zealand as having an emerging level of digital maturity. Of the three categories, New Zealand scored highest for customer experience, achieving a reading of 66 out of 100, which is in the intermediate range and reflects the focus on improving user experience for citizens. However, the overall score maturity was lowered by the site performance and digital equity scores, which were in the emerging range.
These scores highlight a few areas where the New Zealand Government can focus on enhancing digital inclusion, especially in making public information and services easier to find, read and understand.
1. Improve the findability of government information
Given many citizens use search engines to find the public information, services and support they need, a low site authority is likely hindering this. This is especially true for the 45 percent of the population with low technology proficiency. Creating a single source of truth for content across all areas and levels of government would help to improve site authority, making it easier for citizens to find the public information they need.
2. Improve citizen experience on mobile devices
Testing revealed that page loading speeds on mobiles were around half that of desktops. This negatively impacts more than half of New Zealand’s citizens who use a mobile as the primary device to access government sites, especially those who may have an older phone that cannot display certain sites. As more and more of our lives are managed via mobile, it is critical for governments to design with mobile in mind.
3. Provide information that all citizens can understand
A 2020 UNICEF report found that 35 percent of 15-year-olds in New Zealand struggle to read and write. Given such a significant portion of citizens have lower literacy levels, the provision of easy-to-read language as well as audio and video content is vital to ensure citizens understand the public information they are accessing.
Further, New Zealand’s latest Census found that five percent of citizens speak a language other than English at home, and far more may prefer to engage in other languages, highlighting the importance of multi-lingual content.
As evidenced in the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa and broadly endorsed across government, there is an opportunity to ensure that all New Zealanders have an equal opportunity in the growing digital economy. While ministries are making great strides in enhancing the accessibility of digital public services, ensuring every citizen can find, read and understand is vital to moving the overall experience up the maturity curve. If implemented, these responses could have far-reaching benefits for all New Zealanders, governments, and the economy.
The benefits of a more inclusive digital public service
The GDPI Indicator is a world-first measure of the digital efficacy of online public service delivery. It has evaluated 85 government websites across eight countries in 2022 and 2023.
The GDPI Indicator uses qualitative and quantitative techniques to assess nine metrics in three core categories:
- Customer experience: User tests with citizens aged between 18 to 65 years, testing mobile and desktop user experience across 10 categories.
- Site performance: Using third-party tools to measure the speed and functionality of government websites across devices.
- Digital equity: Using third-party tools to assess the accessibility and inclusion of government websites
Each is scored on a 100-point scale, with the average forming the reading for the overall Indicator.