Our public agency clients are hard at work each day on important projects that keep our cities running. They’re juggling competing priorities and evaluating complex problems. Sometimes communicating the moving pieces that influence their decisions proves challenging. That’s where digital engagement tools come in.
Digital engagement tools allow users to interact with the information and gamify the decision-making process. Often, users can manipulate different factors and options in a way that reflects the complex decisions confronting policymakers.
Civic Edge has had the privilege of working with a number of public agencies to develop unique digital engagement tools, including:
Interested in making a unique tool? Here are some tips to get you started!
Before you can build a first-rate digital engagement tool, you need to understand what you’re looking to gain from it. What information do you want users to understand? What feedback are you looking to collect? Take time at the outset to make sure you’re asking the public for input you’ll actually use and that can actually influence your project.
Members of the public are taking time to make an input, so you need to consider the output of their time on the app or site. Does a website show real-time results from participants? Do users see their responses and an aggregate of everyone else’s? Will users get an email back from the agency if they submitted feedback?
Picking the right team to design and develop the tool makes all the difference. Find a designer or firm with experience developing similar engagement tools. Make sure you and your designer think through the user experience, especially the language inside the tool. You want your content to be on message and seamlessly walk the user through using the tool.
Developing a digital engagement tool isn’t cheap, so double-down on your investment with a smart outreach and promotion strategy. This can include email newsletters, social media posts, advertisements, and listings in local newspapers. Make sure to ask community organizations and political leaders to help get the word out to their communities, too.
We recognize digital engagement tools can feel daunting, but we promise you it’s worth it. Digital engagement tools often result in more participants, more usable data, and higher levels of engagement and understanding.
A few weeks ago, a dinner party conversation turned to a particularly awkward icebreaker forced on a friend at her new job. A colleague asked everyone to share their favorite childhood camp experiences. My friend said the resulting conversation was painful, as one by one, it became apparent that this icebreaker leader was the only person in the meeting who grew up with enough resources to go to summer camp. All of my friend’s colleagues gracefully shared a nice childhood summer memory in lieu of a camp experience, but she said the rest of the meeting was challenging because of the careless icebreaker.