An Easier Way to Find and Use Popular Services on Government Websites
Even with the best government websites, it’s often far too complex and highly time consuming to find and use the service you need. Consider something like signing-up for community tennis lessons, paying taxes, or registering a local business; it can take many trial and error clicks to get to the right place. Every agency site is designed completely differently and for most users, they’ll rarely visit it enough to remember where to find things. There has to be an easier way.
This is what San Mateo, California-based Papergov is solving.
The service first began with a simple, free search engine that provided links to relevant, popular government services and information for the requested agency. It quickly received more than 100,000 unique users validating the thesis that a one-stop search service could add value.
Search, however, was just the entry point. The big vision for Papergov is to enable the easy discovery of a desired government service and then support processing of a transaction without the user having to leave the site.
Fewer clicks, easy-to-use, and more convenience.
The migration from a simple government search engine to a fully fledged one-stop shop for government services is underway. The Papergov team is using insights and feedback from early users to guide their design choices. So far, visitors from all 50 US states have interacted with the website providing a diverse picture of user needs from across the country.
Beginning with some basic services, more are being added gradually as the development team works closely with user feedback. They have an ambitious product road-map. For example, in the future if a user decide to register, they’ll get reminders of payments that are due (or they can select automatic payments), upcoming community and agency events and offerings, and other convenient prompts.
With privacy always as a priority, down the road the team will work with agencies to provide insights from their experiences and data gleaned from user interactions to help government agencies improve their services.
It’s still early in the development of the product, but so far, the feedback and usage rates have been highly positive and encouraging. There are still many design and functional decisions to make in the months ahead as they refine the focus and ensure that they are a fair player in the ecosystem of stakeholders.
Check out http://www.papergov.com, try out the service, and leave some feedback. The team would be delighted to receive your thoughts, good or bad.
Dr. Jonathan Reichental is an adviser to Papergov and several other start-ups. He’s also the CEO of Human Future, a professor, and an author.