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Q&A: How Oakland County’s mobile site captured Best on the Web


Oakland County Web home page.

The government of Oakland County, MI, is leveraging a mobile-optimized Web site to put a human face on county government while realizing significant cost-savings, earning it the title of Best on the Web for digital engagement.

The award from Government Technology magazine and the Center for Digital Government reflects both the clear, clean easy-to-navigate layout as well as the $17.8 million in revenue for the county that transactions conducted through the site generated in fiscal 2014 while saving taxpayers $2.8 million. Nearly four million users visited the Web site, www.OakGov.com, which seamlessly guides smartphone and tablet users to county services, news and community events. 

“About 30 percent of our traffic now comes from mobile devices and we expect that number to grow,” said Phil Bertolini, deputy county executive and chief information officer. “That is why we have made our 23,000 pages of our Web site content accessible to mobile devices.

“Our homepage provides enough information for users to get where they need to go without overwhelming them with too many choices,” he said.

In an interview with Mobile Marketer, Mr. Bertolini discussed the challenges of designing a responsive county-government Web site.

What does winning this best of Web title signify in terms of how well you are leveraging mobile to engage with citizens?
We believe that our mobile capabilities were a key factor in us winning the award. A mobile first posture must be taken when 30 percent of our Web traffic is from mobile devices.

Mobile generates 30 percent of site's traffic.

What has Oakland County been doing to engage mobile users (smartphones, tablets) with the county government?
Our www.oakgov.com Web site is a main component in our mobile efforts. Using HTML 5 with an adaptive design provides the necessary platform to enable mobile users.

How does it help you to market the county when it can engage with users on mobile? 
We believe our mobile environment enables a significant number of mobile users. 

We are finding that it is not just those with wealth that have smartphones. Many smartphone users are the very young or the economically disadvantaged. 

Web site personalizes government.

Those with less disposable income tend to use mobile devices as their primary Internet device. Oakland County wants to serve all of our residents and not just the few.

Do you have a mobile marketing campaign?
We do not have a marketing campaign for our mobile site. We are exploring what we need to do in the future. 

We have received positive press and we are experiencing a good word-of-mouth effort for those seeking information.

Are there any plans to use mobile in mobile commerce?
Our ecommerce initiative does have a mobile component. Many of our consumers were attempting to access our services with mobile devices and we were able to accommodate them.

Word-of-mouth is driving site's use.

What is the challenge in engaging citizens on mobile in government?
Citizens still struggle to use mobile devices effectively and manage their individual needs. 

Over time people will rely even more on their smart phones and governments need to be ready to support them. It is a challenge but I believe that we have worked diligently to move our mobile efforts forward.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.

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Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.

Related content: Government, Oakland County, Q and A, mobile, mobile commerce, mobile marketing, Phll Bertolini

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