Recently, I have seen a lot of traffic on government email lists about customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX). There is a big push by the Office of Management and Budget concerning the citizen’s experience when dealing with government agencies. The Amazon shopping experience is the model for building government websites and providing citizen services.
When I started working in the federal government it was during the Reinventing Government movement lead by Vice-President Gore. The idea was create government services where “the plumbing was invisible” and services flowed automatically to citizens like they were shopping at a convenience store. Donald Kettl, a noted public administration, called this model, vending machine government.
The reinventing government was during the early days of the commercial Internet. Government websites were heavily influenced by how commercial websites were being built. Between 1993 and 2000, organizations were running millions of experiments to determine what made a site clickable and sticky (“keeping eyeballs on the site”). UX and CX grew up in this time.
For the last 19 years, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter learned how to make users click, buy, and interact on their respective platforms. Governments have taken note and, at the same time governments are trying to regulate abusive CX and UX, government webmasters are using CX and UX to encourage citizen participation.
My concern is that government websites and interactions with the public is much more different and profound. Amazon and the rest of the commercial Internet exist only to sell me things. I am only a customer to the commercial Internet companies.
Democratic governments and their citizens have a deeper relationship. Citizens rely on governments to establish and promote democracy. In turn, governments rely on citizens to maintain democracy. This is why I am calling for DemX – Democratic Experience.
DemX is an evolving field and its basic tenets have yet to be established. In future postings, I will outline a theory of DemX that incorporates the best elements of CX and UX with ways of promoting the democratic relationship between governments and their citizens.