To provide better citizen services, many state governments upgrade their websites, adding functionality and bolstering availability. However, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation recently conducted a review of 400 state government websites and concluded that all states have room to significantly improve their online public services.
The foundation judged state websites by four criteria: page-load speed, mobile friendliness, security and accessibility. Only one of the 400 websites passed all four tests: Virginia’s website for hunting and fishing licenses. According to the foundation, “State government websites for fishing and hunting licenses passed the mobile page-load speed test more than any other type of state government website — 62 percent passed. States can improve their page-load speed by compressing images and avoiding the use of page redirects.”
Overall, 77 percent of state government websites passed the desktop page-load test, while 50 percent passed the mobile page-load test. Only 67 percent of state government websites passed as mobile-friendly. Many suffered from content not designed to fit mobile screens as well as from too-small buttons and links.
To test security, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation used HTTPS and Domain Name System Security trials. Only 44 percent of state government websites passed the HTTPS test, while 13 percent passed the DNSSEC test and just four percent passed both.
Fifty-nine percent of state websites passed the accessibility test. The foundation recommended consulting the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 for a list of best practices for accessibility.
Best State Websites Concentrated in 4 States
Virginia, Georgia, Idaho and Vermont dominated the top 10 best-performing state websites overall, according to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation:
- Virginia: Hunting and fishing licenses
- Vermont: Driver’s licenses
- Idaho: Elections
- Idaho: Traffic violations
- Virginia: Business registrations
- Georgia: Driver’s licenses
- Georgia: Primary state government site
- Georgia: Business registrations
- Virginia: Vital records
- Vermont: Vital records
The top 10 states overall ranked by their scores:
- Virginia, 83
- Idaho, 82.3
- Massachusetts, 80.2
- Georgia, 80.1
- Colorado, 77.5
- Missouri, 77.4
- Michigan, 75.5
- Arizona 75.3
- Vermont, 75.1
- California, 75
Alaska’s state website topped page-load speeds, Mississippi excelled in mobile friendliness, Utah and Idaho ranked highest in security and Michigan was No. 1 for accessibility.
States Recognized for Best Overall Online Experience
In September, the Center for Digital Government offered a different take on states with the “best online experience” in its second annual Government Experience Awards.
“State and local governments are responding to citizen wants and needs with increasingly sophisticated online experiences,” said Dustin Haisler, chief innovation officer for the Center for Digital Government. “This year’s Government Experience Awards winners have well-designed websites and innovative channels that provide citizens meaningful information and services, robust data integration and an exceptional user experience.”
Top rankings for overall government experience included:
The center also singled out seven individual websites for awards in state government experience:
- Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, FloridaHealthPriceFinder
- Idaho Prompt Pay
- Iowa’s Google My Business - Google Your Government
- Maryland AccessDNR Mobile Application
- Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Hunting and Fishing Mobile App
- Nebraska State Patrol, Concealed Handgun Permits Renew/Replacement Application
- Oregon Department of Transportation, Value Pricing Online Open House
These rankings show the best of what state government websites have to offer and can serve as models for states looking to modernize and improve their online presence.