211 Maine Search Tool

GovWebworks Helps 211 Maine Provide Services for Covid

Updated 211 search tool makes it easier for Mainers to quickly find assistance during pandemic
GWW Staff

GWW Opinion

GWW Staff

September 29, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 29, 2020

PORTLAND, Maine — In response to the growing demand for assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic, GovWebworks partnered with 211 Maine and United Ways of Maine to make it easier to find help via the 211maine.org website. Resources on the site include assistance for food, shelter, health care, mental health, child welfare, and Covid-19 issues.

Nationally, many 211 websites suffer from insufficient or outdated information, inaccurate search capabilities, and poor navigation. During this time of increased call volume and website visits (up from 4,572 to 11,259 average monthly page views in Maine during the pandemic), 211 Maine sought to make assistance easier to find online. GovWebworks signed a contract with United Way, the 211 Maine administrator, in November 2019 to begin updates on the site.

“As it turns out, the work couldn’t have begun at a more important time,” says Tom Lovering, Director of Client Engagement at GovWebworks. When 211 Maine began receiving increased calls for help during the pandemic, GovWebworks was able to prioritize the 211 project for quicker delivery. 211 Maine can now promote the website with confidence that users will be able to find the information they seek.

To determine what improvements were needed, the GovWebworks team visited the call center, interviewed members of the provider community, and held a focus group to identify user preferences.

“We found that Mainers face a variety of challenges,” noted Sarah Crossman, Director of User Experience. “We had to create a clear, user-friendly, intuitive interface that would help people quickly find the programs they need.”

As detailed in 211 Maine to the Rescue, the updated tool employs plain language and has a friendly and modern look and feel to make content more easily and quickly accessible. Site visitors can filter services through a guided search or with a conventional keyword search. The “I Need” statement dropdown and a geolocation feature optimizes searches to make them as useful as possible.

“There is a stigma around asking for help,” 211 Maine’s Program Manager Nikki Busmanis says. “For people who find themselves in need of help and have a hard time asking, the web is so important.”

About GovWebworks

GovWebworks is part of a national movement to improve digital government services. The mission to increase online access to social benefits is especially prescient during the current crisis, with the dramatic increase in remote requests for help. Giving people the ability to easily find and apply for services online, instead of visiting a physical location, can make all the difference.

Supporting organizations like Code for America (CfA), the U.S. Digital Services Agency, and 18F, GovWebworks is a sponsor of the local CfA brigade, OpenMaine.

Some of GovWebworks’ other projects include:

Founded in 1999 in Portland, Maine, Portland Webworks develops online applications for private sector companies, and GovWebworks supports public sector agencies in states including Idaho, Washington, Minnesota, and Maine, with innovative, user-centric solutions that deliver immediate impact to citizens. For more information, visit www.govwebworks.com.

Melissa Coleman
Portland Webworks/GovWebworks

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