Engage With Customers to Prioritize Digital Services
What It Is
The Digital Government Strategy requires all Executive departments and agencies to engage with online customers to identify two priority systems to: 1) publish as APIs and 2) optimize for mobile browsers. Agencies can select two systems that meet both the API and mobile requirements or separate systems for each requirement. You’ll likely use different criteria for determining which systems should be optimized for API vs. mobile, but how you engage citizens to identify the top systems can be similar.
Why It’s Important
The customers of federal websites increasingly have expectations that any service be available anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Making content—information, data and services—available via API improves your ability to deliver that content in more diverse ways and to a broader audience. You can also ensure a faster, more productive user experience for mobile users.
Milestones 2.1 and 7.1 of the Digital Government Strategy require agencies to meet these two requirements by August 23, 2012:
Engage with customers to identify at least two existing major customer-facing services that contain high-value data or content as first-move candidates to make compliant with new open data, content, and web API policy (Milestone 2.1), and
Engage with customers to identify at least two existing priority customer-facing services to optimize for mobile use. (Milestone 7.1)
How to Implement
1. Assess what you’ve already done. Take stock of current and past efforts to determine if you’ve already met the milestones, or are close to meeting them. Consider these questions:
Is your website, including your top customer-facing services, mobile-enabled?
Have you developed a mobile app for your top customer-facing services?
Have you developed APIs for some of your top data and content?
2. Look at your data and top tasks. You probably already have a lot of data that tells you about your top customer-facing services. Here are strategies to help with this:
3. Identify which top services would be best candidates for API. After you review your data and top tasks, the next step is to identify the ones that would benefit from being delivered via API. Delivering data and content via APIs allows you to create content once and have it be dynamically posted and updated in multiple locations on the Web. Consider these questions:
Do you have data or content that changes frequently and would benefit from an API, where third-party websites could automatically pull the information and have it be updated in real-time?
Do you have data or content that is considered a key asset and is consumed regularly by a large percentage of your customers?
4. Identify which top services would be candidates for mobile. After you review your data and top tasks, the next step is to identify the ones that would benefit from being optimized for mobile. Some things to consider:
What services are most important for your customers to be able to complete while on mobile devices?
What’s the context that people are completing the task? Are a high percentage of people likely to complete the task away from a desktop computer? Would the experience be optimized if designed for mobile?
One thing that distinguishes mobile from other platforms is the fact that users can easily identify their geographic location. Would the service you’re trying to deliver be optimized if the person opted-in to identify their location?
5. Engage with your customers to prioritize the services. There are many ways to engage with your customers to validate data you’ve already collected and prioritize the services. Some key resources:
Include a question in your customer satisfaction survey about top services you should optimize for mobile
Post a list of top services on your agency blog and ask for comments
Use social media to communicate your top services and ask for feedback
Use Ideation tools to generate ideas about top services for API and mobile
As with any engagement, it helps when you use a variety of tools that compliment each other, to maximize the volume and diversity of feedback. It’s also valuable when you follow-up regularly with those who are participating to recognize their involvement and help provoke further discussion.
6. Compile results and choose top services. Review your data and the outcome of your engagements. Collaborate across the various stakeholders of your agency to decide on which systems should be published as APIs and which will be optimized for mobile.
7. Publish decisions. By August 23, 2012, publish the list of your services on agency.gov/digitalstrategy, per OMB reporting guidance.