Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services achieves a digital makeover with Adobe Experience Manager.
The nation’s largest social service agency revamped its website and introduced a mobile-friendly experience that has transformed interactions with its customers.
Transition from text heavy and difficult-to-navigate static web pages to more dynamic and personalized content.
Produce a mobile friendly site and services.
Reduce the need for customers to make in-person visits, which became crucial after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Generate analytics data to indicate how and where further improvements could take place.
The agency has streamlined the site and reduced the number of pages from 600 to 200 while making it easier to find essential content.
The site now supports all mobile formats.
After introducing the new site in June 2020, LADPSS witnessed thousands of additional hits during the first week. Traffic has continued to increase.
The agency is continuing to improve the site via feedback from customers.
In the high contact, high-touch field of social services, every minute, dollar, and interaction matters. So, a few years ago, when the largest social service agency in the US recognized the need to evolve beyond phone calls and physical office visits to robust digital interactions, it embarked on an ambitious project to modernize its website (its digital front door) and fundamentally revamp the way it delivers services.
The task wasn’t without steep challenges, with serving over 3.5 million customers, LADPSS had to ensure that the site redesign would be visually appealing and easy to navigate. In addition, it had to be accessible on mobile devices, provide critical features such as the ability to apply for benefits, check the status of an application, and comply with American Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
Using Adobe Experience Cloud and other Adobe tools, LADPSS turned a new page. The new site launched in June 2020, just in time to accommodate customers as the pandemic unfolded. Suddenly, the agency’s customers could view their benefits, learn about services, and explore various resources available. Not surprisingly, the enhanced functionality served as a crucial resource and helped the agency avoid service disruptions.
LADPSS hasn’t looked back. “We recognized that we had to stay a step ahead of customers and conform to the actual journey they are on. The experience we deliver to them couldn’t be based on our terms, it had to be based on their terms,” states Michael Sylvester, Assistant Director and Chief Information Officer, LADPSS.
Turning a new page
More than 10 million people live in Los Angeles County, and about 1 in 3 require some form of support from LADPSS, which is the largest social services agency in the United States. "Our purpose is straightforward, and it drives us every day. We aim to deliver effective and caring services to the public and assist those in need towards a path to economic mobility and self-sufficiency,” Sylvester explains. Starting in 2015, the agency began to focus heavily on customer satisfaction and the overall effectiveness of our service delivery. In 2017, it launched an effort to modernize its website and transform the way it interacts with customers.
At that time, the existing site was text heavy and challenging to navigate. Search functions were limited—and it didn’t support smartphones and mobile traffic. What’s more, because the technology framework hadn’t been upgraded for several years, content creators found themselves struggling to make changes. For example, there was no preview feature to check content before it went live on the site.
“We recognized that we had to stay a step ahead of customers and conform to the actual journey they are on. The experience we deliver to them couldn’t be based on our terms, it had to be based on their terms. ”
Assistant Director and Chief Information Officer, Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services
As a result, a team of 30 content specialists at LADPSS set out to produce a clean and consistent design that would make it easier for customers to find the documents and other resources they need—quickly and efficiently. Using Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), Adobe Creative Cloud applications, Illustrator, and Photoshop, the group spent three weeks revamping content and redesigning web pages.
The new site officially launched on June 20, 2020. “Our previous website had over 600 pages of content in both English and Spanish,” says Elizabeth Becerra, the agency’s Division Chief for the Communications and Project Management Division. “Our goal was to reduce the number of pages, and we accomplished that, streamlining it to under 200 pages total.”
“The modernization effort was vital,” Sylvester says. “In many cases it eliminates the need for someone to drive or take a bus to a social services office, wait in line, and interact in person simply to find out what types of programs and services we provide, and how to apply for them.” Not surprisingly, as the pandemic unfolded, the ability to handle inquiries and resolve problems in a timely manner became crucial. “Instead of someone spending several hours to get an answer to a question, they could find the information they need on the site in just a few minutes—even over the weekend, when our offices are typically closed for business,” Sylvester explains.
Responsive design takes hold
The revamped LADPSS site automatically adjusts the display to the size of the screen, whether the user is connecting through a mobile phone or a desktop computer. Buttons, links, and other navigation elements adapt to the device through an agile, user-centric design framework. Customers access their benefits and learn what other resources are available through a site that is now fully ADA compliant.
Moreover, with Adobe Analytics, LADPSS staff can now gauge customer frustrations and problem points—and tweak web pages and processes to improve the user interface. As a result, the first week the new site went live, the agency witnessed a 68% improvement in content efficiency—even while adding a Spanish-language version of the website. LADPSS now has the ability to add 11 other languages, which is underway.
“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.”
Division Chief, Communications and Project Management Division, Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services
All told, the efforts have paid off handsomely. Since March of 2021, LADPSS has had 2,562,535 visits to the redesigned website. LADPSS captured a National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award for its web redesign and functionality. Elizabeth Becerra, who spearheaded the project, also won a prestigious Service to the Citizen: Champions of Change Award for her leadership of this project, which recognizes public servants at all levels for their leadership and dedication to delivering an outstanding experience to the public. “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,” Becerra says.
In conclusion, this project was not just about building a new website; it was about providing a better overall customer experience. LADPSS advanced from an information-centric site to one that delivers far greater value through a consumer perspective.