The mobile mandate: Congress requires mobile friendly websites

Connect with state & local government leaders
 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The Connected Government Act requires all new or redesigned federal websites to be mobile friendly.

With federal government websites often a generation behind commercial sites, Congress in late December passed the Connected Government Act, which requires all federal agencies that create or redesign websites for public use ensure to the “greatest extent possible” that their websites are mobile friendly.

Mobile friendly is defined as a website configuration that can be easily navigated, viewed and accessed on a smartphone, tablet computer or similar mobile device. After the legislation is signed by President Donald Trump, the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the General Services Administration, will submit a report to Congress within 18 months describing the act's and agency compliance.

The legislation was introduced by Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) after she saw the results from a Information Technology and Innovation Foundation report that benchmarked federal websites against industry standards. The second edition of the report, released in November, found 91 percent of the most popular federal websites failed to meet basic website standards. ITIF tested 469 federal websites using publicly available tools for page-load speed, mobile friendliness, security and accessibility.

“More and more Americans are using smartphones to access government services,” Kelly said. “We have a responsibility to keep pace with technological innovation and make it easy for citizens to engage with their government.”

Daniel Castro, ITIF vice president and co-author of the report, determined “a lot of federal websites” were not being actively maintained and were underperforming but were still popular.

It's a “challenge for government to track the number of websites that are out there but not being updated,” Castro told GCN. “To me, the next step is getting a complete inventory of all of the federal websites -- which currently doesn’t exist.”

Castro urged agencies to become responsible for their own website maintenance and proposed the General Services Administration provide assessment tools for widespread government use.

GSA’s 18F provides the Federalist service that can help government agencies design and manage websites.

“18F has always built responsive sites that work for all screen sizes, and our Federalist product has templates that are responsive out of the box,” Will Slack, who runs the Federalist program, told GCN. “Federalist is available to help other agencies rapidly and compliantly update their sites to be responsive."

GSA also tracks mobile traffic to federal websites through analytics.usa.gov. Currently, 45 percent of 2.5 billion visits to participating federal websites were from mobile devices or tablets.

Local governments are also keen to develop mobile-friendly websites for their residents. Municipalities that want to design for a mobile platform should start with customer research to determine what makes sense to highlight for a mobile audience, according to David Nachman, CEO of Vision, a website design and development firm that works with local governments.

“Across our customer base, we see events and parks and recreation as two areas that typically spike on mobile compared to desktop use,” Nachman told GCN. “In every case, it is beneficial to do research for your own user base and determine how mobile versus desktop usage differs.”

Still, with 40 percent on average of residents viewing websites on their mobile devices, Nachman said governments must move toward a resident-centric approach and focus on customer experience. “The things that matter to constituents have changed,” he said. “People are accessing these websites 24/7, and we see pretty meaningful usage after traditional business hours.”

The investment in mobile-friendly websites also begs the question whether agencies should invest in mobile applications.

When it comes to accessing local government information, Nachman said the “vast majority” of mobile usage isn’t going to come from an app.

“Most customers don’t have a level of engagement with their local communities to want to download an app, but they are engaged via mobile devices,” Nachman said. “Too often, [agencies] charge forward into the mobile app world based on the buzz without trying to understand the customer experience that they are trying to deliver.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.