Social Services in Los Angeles get a digital makeover with Adobe Experience Cloud

Los Angeles County is home to over 10 million residents. One out of three rely on the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS). As the largest agency of its kind in the United States, the organization (with nearly 14,000 employees) is frequently a lifeline for many of the most vulnerable in the community.

For most residents, a physical office had long been the primary way to access DPSS services. As the world became increasingly digitized, however, there was a growing appetite to connect on online channels like websites and on mobile. The DPSS team knew that in order to maintain a high standard of service and meet the expectations of its residents, the agency would need to revamp its digital presence.

As the digital “front door” to the agency, the DPSS website would be the primary focus. Through a collaboration with Adobe Experience Cloud, a set of apps were leveraged to relaunch a website that was easy to navigate and optimized for mobile. And internally, it would enable DPSS employees to publish content online quickly and consistency, with analytics to inform iterative improvements.

The timing of the digital transformation effort could not have been more advantageous: By early 2020, the new website was up and running, with great early results. What the team had not foreseen was the onset of COVID-19 soon after. When physical offices had to close, digital channels became indispensable.

The path to digital

Before the site revamp, the challenges had been clear to the DPSS team: The old site had been incredibly text heavy and difficult for residents to find what they needed. It had not been optimized for mobile at a time when many of life’s daily tasks were migrating to smartphones. The underlying technology was generally outdated, making it difficult for content creators to their jobs efficiently. Important features — such as the ability to preview posts — had been lacking.

Right around 2017, there was a department-wide effort to enhance the resident experience and find ways to improve customer satisfaction. Given the ubiquity of digital services at the time, online engagement became a primary focus. On the front end, a redesign made the site much more intuitive (and mobile friendly).

“Our previous website had over 600 pages of content in both English and Spanish,” says Elizabeth Becerra, the agency’s division chief, communications and project management division. “Our goal was to bring this down, and we accomplished that, streamlining it to under 200 pages total. When visitors come now, they see a warm welcome, followed by clear navigation to the services we offer and benefit program descriptions that are written in plain language and easy to understand.”

DPSS website

On the backend, Adobe Experience Manager provided over 30 DPSS employees a platform to easily develop and manage content, with an ability to publish consistently across desktop Web and mobile platforms. With Adobe Analytics, DPSS was also able to get a real-time pulse on where residents were hitting roadblocks. It informed everything from site layout and navigation to the agency’s marketing strategy. The goal is to increase communication through the digital channel and reduce costly in person interactions

“At the Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services, we have a responsibility to make sure we are doing the most we can for our residents. From job placement to financial assistance, we are here to provide services in people’s greatest time of need,” says Christina Nguyen, chief technology officer at the agency. “We knew that by offering an easy and intuitive online experience, LA County residents can quickly obtain the needed information and engage our department to obtain public assistance.”

With its Experience Cloud apps, Adobe has been an important DPSS technology partner, she adds.

“[The apps] gave us a foundation to deliver a great web experience on any platform, with data to help us make iterative improvements over time. While this is valuable during normal times, it became crucial during the onset of COVID-19,” Nguyen says. “It has enabled our remote workforce to maintain a sense of continuity and minimize any disruptions for residents. And while resiliency is important for any organization during this time, it is particularly pressing for government agencies that provide critical services.”