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November 2018

Citizen-centric website design offers Arkansans easy access to new online services

 

Consumers today can place an online order in the morning for a same-day evening delivery. Convenience has become an expectation.

To better serve its customers, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (AR DFA) set out on a mission to provide as many services as possible online. It tasked its industry partner, NIC, though its local subsidiary, the Information Network of Arkansas (INA), to create a website portal for this purpose.

In 2017, Arkansas registered 643,000 passenger vehicles at revenue offices and served more than 2 million customers. By making services available online, AR DFA hopes to eliminate hundreds of thousands of visits to revenue offices. Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the AR DFA, says, “If half of those transactions were conducted online, that would save Arkansans collectively more than 36 years in total time.”

Although many of the 23 online service hubs were not built by nor are maintained by INA, creating a website portal to access them all was a unique challenge. “We’ve built a site that connects all the different services across the entire ecosystem,” says Bob Sanders, general manager of INA. “The focus is on making it easy for the citizen.”

When the new web portal launched in March 2017, AR DFA and INA then had to get the word out. Hardin cites a survey that asked people where they least like standing in line. The DMV was one of the top three responses. Riffing off of this sentiment, INA came up with a social media campaign that uses memes with the text “I’d rather…[activity]...than visit the DMV.” And then the text is overlaid on images of people visiting the dentist or cleaning a toilet, for example.

“We’re grateful that, in addition to the IT work they do, INA has some very sharp, creative minds,” Hardin says. “The ‘I’d rather’ [outreach program] has been a successful marketing campaign.”

For those customers who haven’t heard about the website yet and amble into a revenue office for a now-available online service, INA has set up touch-screen kiosks to save time as well. “Nearly 50 percent of people who walk into a revenue office use a kiosk, so they’re very effective,” says Sanders.

Distilling government language down to simple terms that everyone can understand, designing an intuitive website navigation interface and using creative social media campaigns to get the word out have made the partnership between AR DFA and INA a great success.