Earlier this year we launched the alpha version of the new City of Austin website with a limited number of city services. Why focus on services and not something like information pages about departments? Because through the testing we did with residents — asking them how they used the City website, and observing them as they moved throughout the website — we learned that residents are looking for the services the City offers, and not necessarily about the departments that offer those services.

Searching for City of Austin services

We also asked residents to show us how they search for city services. Every resident we spoke to told us they use a search engine to land on the page they want as opposed to using the menu and site navigation. Our analytics back up their stories: 61% of traffic comes from Google, and only 21% of site visitors use the navigation. …

“I like trying to guess which information is right — the FAQ or the web page. Especially when I’m in a hurry.” — No Austin resident ever.

The other day, my coworker and I were talking about how we can help content authors write content so simple it does away with the need for frequently asked questions (also known as FAQs). …

Service-oriented language… in three other languages

One of my favorite parts of this job is creating something that will make someone’s life easier. I’ve written about teaching city employees how to write people-oriented content via Funshops, and showing those same employees how to manage their content so they don’t lose track of what they have. What can I say? It’s exciting to teach people how they can save time and money by re-thinking how they write and organize content.

Part of my role as a Content Strategist is helping employees understand the impact that re-structuring their content can have on residents. As we continue to test and adapt alpha.austin.gov, it’s very important to reinforce good habits in our content authors, especially when we knew our next step was to translate our services into three other languages. If it’s hard to understand technical, department-oriented, and acronym-filled content in one language- you can imagine how challenging that content is to translate! …


Laura Trujillo

Content strategist for the Office of Design & Delivery | City of Austin

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