NC Digital Commons

NC “Mobile First” – Digital Front Door Project Series

Cary, NC – Cary, NC – This is the third article in our series of the new paradigm for redeveloping municipal websites. We will bring you stories of the innovative things people are doing in this space. This article is about the Digital Commons Project at the State of North Carolina.

NC Digital Commons Project

NC.gov and State Agency Websites are Getting a Facelift, Going Mobile

The state is working to improve its web presence, not just for NC.gov, but for state agencies as well. We’re calling it the Digital Commons Project, with the goal of better customer service by improving user experience.

The Digital Commons Project provides cabinet agencies with the resources to have a modern, mobile-ready website that is better able to meet the needs of the citizen. For the first time, cabinet agencies are working together to provide predictable navigation, content that is easier to manage and that is better maintained, and a modern means to create and maintain websites. Websites will have robust functionality combined with a clean look and feel that functions on desktops, tablets and smartphones. A “mobile-first” approach will ensure websites work just as well on a small screen as on a large one. Designs will be consistent while allowing the flexibility for each agency site to have its own personality.

Why Mobile-First?

Many people in North Carolina do not have access to broadband or PC’s and for these people their smartphone is their access to the Internet. Designing for the smaller screen format first is important so all these people can access your content and interact with your websites. It is much easier to start small and add additional content for those with bigger screen sizes, than it is to try and shrink a website that was developed for the PC’s and have it be usable on a smartphone.

Brendan Morrisey, the CEO of Netsertive, recently presented the reality that mobile devices are currently outselling PC’s four to one, an impressive market penetration from their introduction in 2006. Brendan’s message is that you have to react to the innovations in the marketplace or you will be left behind. (Brendan’s presentation on innovation was given at the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting an Friday, January 30, 2015. There was a lot of great information in the presentation and we will try to bring some of that content to our readers soon.)

For both the reasons of lack of broadband and PC’s as well as the large scale adoption of mobile devices, “Mobile-first” is a smart strategy for the State of NC to be pursuing.

Check out the Digital Commons Project and see how you like it, also see if you like the process they are using to redesign their sites. If you find this interesting and useful, please talk to your elected officials to see if your Town or City can use a similar process for their website redesign.

Previous Tech Tank Articles in the Digital Front Door Series