The 7 Steps In Creating A Local Government Website

Laptop on a desk displaying a message, with an aesthetic background. Portraying government web design and a local government website.

Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

Government website design doesn’t have to be so frustrating, so we simplified it.

We’ve come across many municipalities that don’t have websites; a virtual ‘face’ of their city in this digital world that we live in. We believe it’s because the process can seem overwhelming. This article aims to enable even the smallest municipalities to create their own local government website. We’ve broken down:

  • Budgeting for a site
  • Researching before you build
  • Defining the goals
  • Delegating responsibilities
  • Creating and curating content
  • Finding a domain host
  • …and bringing it all together to create the site.

Even more! We’ve added an extra piece of information at the bottom in order to take your online presence to the next level. Your agency has most likely been on social media, and now your presence in a digital environment is looking to grow.

Step 1: Budgeting for a local government website

The cost of building a website varies based on the approach. The good thing is that there are many different approaches a municipality can take. This section will highlight a couple of those.

Budgeting for a local government website in the digital age has more significance than when people budgeted for a printer in the 1980s. Making sure to invest a good amount into your website is crucial for improving the experience residents will have while performing services, signing up for events, reading news, and much more.

A couple of things to consider when budgeting for the website:

  • Upfront costs: The cost of your domain name and the hosting platform
  • Maintenance: someone handling the updates and quality assurance
  • Plugins or integrated software: Additional tools to help optimize the website
  • Content consistency: someone who takes care of uploading the content

Typically, one person can do most of it at a hefty cost. Hiring a website designer for a local government website can cost anywhere between $30,000-$80,000 per year, depending on the quality of the items listed above.

Building your website through a website builder is another, much cheaper approach. Platforms such as Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace, and Weebly can cost between $0-$50 for basic website functions and templates. Creating a website through WordPress is another method that would be on the lower end of the spectrum.

Whichever route you choose, make sure your organization doesn’t end up with an unwelcoming website. Spending additional time researching and/or capital funds on your website will be something your locality appreciates in the long run.

Step 2: Research

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Municipalities have built, and are continuing to build incredible websites for themselves and their residents. Diving into pieces of literature and knowledgeable videos that are currently on the internet might not make an expert on creating a local government website, but it’ll provoke better questions while creating an engaging site.

Competitive intel

A method that businesses in the private sector use when researching how to build their website is “stealing” what other companies are doing. For example, Amazon uses the color #FF9900 on their Call to Action (CTA), which others say helps their conversion rates. Using practices that successful counterparts are using in another state or region is a good way to get an idea of the direction to take.

How to’s

“How-To” articles and videos might be the greatest thing to happen to humanity since sliced bread. Typing into Google or YouTube, “how to build a website”, will take an individual through a step-by-step process. Whether it’s finding a domain host, researching keywords, setting up analytics, or any other questions you have about building and maintaining a website, “How-To” bits of information will be an incredible guide.

Tailoring to different demographics

How will each demographic use the website? This question can be used throughout the process to not only provide a more digitally captivating environment for younger generations but create an easy-to-use, not overwhelming service center for older folks. Making sure the website is ADA-compliant is very important as well. With the accessibility of mobile phones to less wealthy individuals, making the site mobile-friendly creates a better site, and combining all of those will help tailor it to different demographics.

Before spending a good amount of money on this local government website design, it’s important to be prepared and know the audience.

Step 3: Define goals for the website

There are a number of goals that a website can help accomplish. It’s important to outline those goals before creating a website. In most cases, a site is used to encourage visitors to perform an action like filling out a form, browsing content, or purchasing an item or service; local government website design is the same.

Here are some common goals for a local government website (let these inspire your goals):

  • Enhance the customer experience
  • Build positive brand affinity
  • Provide a better user experience
  • Increase total users
  • Increase Revenue
  • Drive more transactions

Being able to achieve any combination of these goals is impressive, and highlights the importance of having a local government website. The user experience is the most essential reason for a website.

Step 4: Who’s involved and how?

Some places don’t quite have the staff to maintain a website. For those places, I’d recommend hiring an outside agency to fill any gaps. To those with the personnel to appoint a specific individual to maintain the website along with having various department heads creating content for it, that’s the route that should be taken.

Content Manager

One main person who maintains the content of the site is key. Too many hands in the cookie jar will ruin the production. This person would be in charge of curating and editing the final pieces to be put onto the website. Working cohesively with department leads to ensure residents are getting enough information from each department is essential; great communication skills are required by the person managing the content for the site.


There should also be someone who designs the banners, thumbnails, social images, and other visual content. This person’s skills will be different from the person managing the website in that they will have more graphic design and creative skills. The Content Manager and Designer will work very closely in creating an appropriate brand within the government website design.


If the staff warrants, a web developer is ideal for maintaining the website. Making sure the website is performing up to speed, with the correct security, and harboring no bugs is essential for the longevity and usability of the site.

Creating a website isn’t as easy as one, two three. You need a very dedicated person or ideally, a team of people working together. Many positions can be hired freelancers if the budget can’t handle a full-time employee.

Step 5: Building a content strategy

A content strategy guides how content is created, what type of content is created, and the formats that are used to produce successful results. The most important aspect of content strategy is the alignment of messaging between channels. Make sure the strategy explains the brand that’s being built, explains the purpose of the content, the tone that will be used, and ensures useful content is being created.

Determine the outcomes each department wants from the creation of this local government website. Not every department has the same pieces of content, so the strategies need to vary. However, they should all be aligned with the overarching plan. More engagement with Agendas and Minutes might be a goal for the Clerk department and creating more signups for events might be a goal for the Parks and Recreation department. Curate and create content that aligns with those goals.

Through the various channels of the municipality, ensuring the messaging is aligned is crucial for gaining trust and a consistent following. Social media, YouTube channels, emails, and any other channels need to have the same type of verbiage and lingo. That’s why having a content strategy in place makes it easier to stay cohesive.

While a content strategy helps maintain consistency across channels, it also maintains consistency throughout a certain period of time. Having themes and series’ planned out for the year creates more engaged and informed residents. If the finance department wants to do a series on personal budgeting throughout the year, make sure the content is in the strategy. If the Public Works department wants to have an “FYI” series, make sure it’s in the content strategy for your local government website.

Step 6: Find a domain host

A domain host is an internet service that provides a platform for managing your domain – for example, or With a domain host, you’ll be able to control domain-specific email addresses for everyone around the office, manage files, control security, download a number of additional pieces of supportive software, and so much more.

Commonly used domain hosts include GoDaddy, DreamHost, Name Hero, and Namecheap. Search through a selection of website templates to find one that represents the culture, brand, digital town hall, and citizen services center for your municipality. More advanced users can begin the development of a local government website step by step through a domain host:

  • pick a hosting plan: Determine the security, RAM, and storage the website will need.
  • Choose a domain name: Use {{YourCity}}.com or another simple variation of it.
  • Pay for the domain: Typically on a yearly plan and not very expensive.
  • Explore the cPanel: Email, Billing, File and Database Management, Metrics, Security, and more.
  • Download the CMS: WordPress is the most common CMS.


Possibly the most popular web hosting platform, GoDaddy has everything to create a well-designed local government website.


DreamHost will ensure your website is fast, secure, and always running for the best visitor experience.

Name Hero

Name Hero is a solution for the smallest municipalities all the way up to websites that will gain thousands of visitors per day.


Whether your website requires speed, simplicity, space, or super-power, Namecheap can assist.

Step 7: Creating the website

You’ve downloaded WordPress. The next step, and the first step to designing the face of the digital town hall, is picking a theme. WordPress provides an overwhelming amount of themes, so remember to keep it simple, quick, and engaging. Ensure the theme is able to load quickly and allows users to navigate and process actions smoothly while providing components that encourage feedback and participation. Government website design is simple.

There are a few pages of a website that you must make sure you have:

  • Homepage: The beginning of your website and should instigate clicking through pages.
  • About page: This page tells everything from the history to the values and acts to build a better relationship with visitors.
  • Contact Page: Provides email, phone, and an address for constituents to get in contact.
  • Resident Information Collection Page(s): Various spots throughout the site that encourage residents to provide basic bits of information about themselves for more personalized outreach.

When creating the local government website, there are some key components to keep in mind;

  • Design: The look and the feel of the website – layouts, fonts, and colors.
  • Content: The words, videos, and images that visitors will see on the website.
  • Information Structure: The page structure and how visitors will navigate throughout.
  • Optimization: The continuous process of adapting to increase engagement and conversions.

(BONUS STEP): Analyze

Google Analytics

At the end of all of the hard work researching and building the website, analyzing performance is a way to ensure it wasn’t a wasted effort. Google has provided an analytics tool to help collect, measure, and visualize website data. Performing this step correctly will help make data-led decisions, understand residents better, and paint a bigger picture of the municipality.

Additional benefits of using Google Analytics are that it’s free, it’s easy to use and implement, it offers customizable reports, and integrates with other Google products. Reporting functions viewable on a dashboard makes it much easier for the admin to analyze and find patterns. Search through the Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversion, reports in order to dive deeper into metrics.

Return On Investment

The most important part of the research process is figuring out the return on investment. With an addition of a website, the ROI, in general, will be positive. However, finding out where you’re getting the best ROI within your local government website and around the government website design is important. Some questions to ask:

  • Which pages are performing the best?
  • What are the most used services?
  • Are we seeing an uptick in engagement from residents?
  • Should we put more effort into a different demographic?
  • Does this perform well compared to another government website design?
  • Which devices are our residents using?
  • Are people spending a lot of time on the site?
  • Have we generated any new information for our CRM?


Creating a local government website with an incredible government website design doesn’t have to be an unbearable, monumental task – so don’t let it.

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