States make big strides in improving experience-driven government
As our lives become increasingly dependent on digital access, it’s become more important than ever to make sure government websites providing critical services deliver a simple and efficient user experience. The pandemic quickly shined a light on the challenges ahead for states still in the initial stages of their modernization journeys, but it also presented an opportunity to create more digitally inclusive governments from the ground up.
This requires thinking deeper than just creating access to government services. It means states need to deliver a personalized, proactive experience by connecting the right person with the right information and the right service at the right time in their journey.
It also means putting measures in place to address those with challenges that impede their ability to navigate online platforms. Some of these factors include the fact that:
- 1 in 5 US residents speaks a non-English language.
- 27% of US adults earning under $30,000 a year are smartphone-only internet users.
- 39% of Americans in rural areas lack access to fast broadband.
- People with disabilities are three times less likely to use the internet daily.
To help with this, Adobe developed the Digital Government Index for U.S. States — an analysis that guides governments in digitally transforming their services with greater focus on inclusivity and personalization. The Index is meant to empower states to better understand and benchmark their digital experiences so they can identify strategies to better serve constituents — citizens, residents, and businesses.
Conducted in April 2023, the second annual Index assigned a score of 0–100 to all 50 state portal websites across customer experience, site performance, and digital equity. Scores combine quantitative data from industry-standard third-party web measurement tools with survey results from 1,500 residents across the country on whether their needs are being met through state websites and digital channels.
Connecticut sets the bar for experience-driven government
This year marked a close contest for first place in the Index. In fact, the score differences were so minimal that any of the states in the top five could make investments or strategic changes that put them in the number one spot.
Top honors went to Connecticut, which has been making incremental changes over the last few years under the leadership of Chief Information Officer Mark Raymond and his team. Raymond took on the tasks of bridging IT governance across 40 agencies, building digital skills across the state and automating workforce operations to put Connecticut over the top.
"We in government often provide those services that are services of last resort for people. They don’t have anywhere else to go, and we have to serve them. It’s our mission."
Mark Raymond, Chief Information Officer, State of Connecticut
Top five overall:
- North Carolina
Overall, most state and local governments are moving from the “basic” to “emerging” category of the digital maturity framework but still fall behind the private sector. But several states made big strides including Montana, which raised its score by 8.84 points and improved its ranking from 48 to 29 and South Carolina, which improved its score by 6.97 points and jumped from 36 to 17.
But the biggest mover of the year was Arkansas, which improved its score by 9.8 points and jumped from 33 to 8 in the Index. The state created a vision for a more inclusive, personal, and accessible digital government experience. And because of that, Arkansas broke into the top five in two categories. The state scored first in the site performance category and second in customer experience. That is an incredible leap from their performance last year, showing the state’s commitment to advancing their digital future.
Trends point to advances in CX
Outside of the individual rankings, Adobe noticed several trends emerge from the cumulative results of the Index, including an impressive reduction in accessibility issues and more websites becoming mobile-friendly.
- Visitor engagement. There was a 5% increase in average customer experience ratings across the 50 state websites.
- Mobile-friendliness. The data showed 3 of 50 websites failed the mobile friendliness test. That number is down from 5 websites failing last year.
- Home page accessibility. There were 14 critical or serious accessibility issues on the average state website home page. That is a 26% reduction in major accessibility issues on state website home pages year over year.
- Multilingual content. This number stayed stagnant with 50% of websites continuing to offer no on-site language translation options.
Moving toward an experience-driven government
Beyond being a way to understand where a state is in its digital journey, the Index can help governments understand how to evolve to meet increasingly diverse constituent needs. This presents a heavy burden for governments that are often working on tight budgets with IT departments that are stretched thin. But there are methods out there that codify what a seamless digital experience looks like.
Adobe focuses on an experience-driven government strategy for CX. With this model, states can proactively deliver personalized, inclusive experiences. For example, states can intelligently automate the process of reaching residents who are eligible but not enrolled in vital health programs or inform rural residents with low broadband access via text message when their driver’s license needs to be renewed.
To put a finer point on it, an experience-driven government does five things:
- Reaches residents on their preferred channel
- Enables digital self-service
- Delivers responsive content on any device or connection
- Offers multi-language personalization
- Recommends next-best action or program
By keeping those best practices in mind, states have a good foundational starting point to work from — a framework to build around their unique populations.
These results can be parsed, but the big takeaway is that everyone has work to do in improving digital touchpoints with constituents. Some states gained ground and others are still in the nascent stages of their digital experience transformations, but one thing should be emphasized — all 50 are on the journey and taking steps forward.
They aren’t alone. Partners in the industry who have been innovating for the customer experience can use that same technology to help governments deliver critical services to communities across the country and make the digital experience more equitable for those who need it most.
Adobe meets each agency wherever they are in their modernization journey. We’ll help you assess your current digital maturity and take progressive steps to become a fully experience-driven organization. Our five-step maturity framework drives benefits at each stage of transformation.
Learn more about how we’re helping fuel experience-driven government
If you would like to receive a complimentary readout of your state’s Digital Government Index report, contact James Hanson, head of industry strategy, state and local government, at email@example.com.
In his role as a digital strategy consultant, Nikhil brings years of data-driven expertise to advise state and local government leaders in their digital transformation initiatives. He is passionate about advancing mission outcomes and equity by designing for every government customer, including residents, visitors, businesses, and employees. Partnering with government innovators, he has developed influential frameworks like the Digital Index for agencies to measure and improve their customer experience and accessibility.