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GCN : June 2015
GCN JUNE 2015 • GCN.COM 17 For all the disruption that the launch of HealthCare.gov caused, it had a num- ber of healthy side effects, including a commitment to improving digital ser- vices at all levels of government, espe- cially applications designed for mobile users. Since then, the Obama administra- tion set up the U.S . Digital Service to help federal agencies transition to digi- tal systems, established the 18F tech incubator at the General Services Ad- ministration and requested $100 mil- lion in funding to back the efforts. “Digital service is getting serious in part because of some high-profile ser- vices that didn’t work so well when we first rolled them out,” said Mike Kru- ger, director of the Commerce Depart- ment’s Office of Digital Engagement. “And that digital service has to be good. It’s no longer acceptable to be clunky and hard.” Those requirements are increasingly being applied to citizen-facing mobile apps, which are rapidly becoming the tool of choice for accessing government data. Last year, research and analytics firm comScore estimated that a major- ity — 53 percent — of all digital media time is now spent on mobile apps. “People want Google ease and Ama- zon personalization,” Kruger said. “If you work in the public or private sec- tor, you have to deliver that kind of dig- ital service. It’s got to be that simple.” To perform at that level, government and industry executives say mobile apps need a thorough tune-up, from the user interface to the back end. ‘BECOME YOUR USER’ The first principle of building a govern- ment mobile app that meets industry standards is personalization, which in- volves the ability to zero in exhaustively on end-user preferences. “You want to know what your users would do — how they use mobile, are they comfortable using native apps, does the native app bring them a specific func- tionality that actually helps?” said Jacob HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF DEVELOPING USER-CENTRIC MOBILE APPS BY PAUL McCLOSKEY CITIZEN SERVICE SaferRide, Department of Transportation 0615gcn_016-021.indd 17 6/1/15 10:11 AM