More than a fresh coat of paint- Pennsylvania’s state website gets a massive revamp

29 May 2024- Today, Governor Josh Shapiro and the Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience (CODE PA) launched a new PA.gov – the first phase of a Commonwealth-wide digital transformation – that makes Commonwealth services easier to find, more accessible, and readily available on one, single site. The new PA.gov connects residents with information and services through search capabilities and intuitive organization and navigation design.

Today’s launch of the new PA.gov design is the first phase of an ongoing transformation for all Commonwealth websites that is expected to be complete in early 2025. Starting today, Pennsylvanians can see updated designs on the PA.gov homepage, Governor’s Office, Lieutenant Governor’s Office, and Department of Human Services sites – which facilitate some of the most commonly used digital services by Pennsylvanians. 64 Commonwealth agencies will transform their sites throughout the rest of 2024 and early 2025.

“I believe that there should be no wrong door to access state government, and that state government’s top priority should be serving Pennsylvanians. Since Day One, my Administration has worked to meet the people of Pennsylvania where they are – both online and in their communities,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “Just over a year since I signed an Executive Order establishing CODE PA, we have made the Commonwealth’s digital services easier to use and more accessible – and today we are beginning the process of creating a better PA.gov for Pennsylvanians. Whether you are looking to register to vote, find health insurance, start a business, or file their tax returns – the new PA.gov will help you find human-centered, user-friendly, and faster digital services online that provide you with the opportunity to take advantage of all the resources and benefits the Commonwealth offers.”

Currently, PA.gov websites are individual, interlinked sites that prompt users to different sites for different services – and too often, Pennsylvanians have to navigate through complicated pages to access critical services they need. The launch of the new PA.gov will create a service-focused, single-site experience where Pennsylvanians will now be able to search on the PA.gov homepage for a specific service – such as “I lost my job” or “I’m a first-time voter” or “health insurance” – and the results will direct them to the service they need in one user journey. As Commonwealth agencies continue to transform their pages, the services directory will evolve to include more services.

On the new PA.gov homepage, Pennsylvanians will find a primary navigation tab where services are listed at the top, search bar to help find topics and services, and an agency directory where services will be organized by Commonwealth agency. As a result, residents will be able to find what they’re looking for – without needing to know which agency provides the service or even which services they might need.

PA.gov serves millions of Pennsylvanians annually across all sites – and the new PA.gov streamlines and removes unnecessary pages to make it easier to use PA.gov and find resources and services. CODE PA is also developing a comprehensive, user-friendly services directory on the PA.gov homepage for Pennsylvanians that will be available by December 2024. Every aspect of the new design system has also been tested to ensure full compliance with accessibility standards to allow Pennsylvanians with disabilities to access Commonwealth websites in the way they need, and improved language access will be a core feature of the new PA.gov.

The Governor’s Office and CODE PA launched the first phase of the new PA.gov after extensive research, interviewing and surveying Pennsylvanians that builds on efforts established at the federal level to encourage life-event focused digital design. This model focuses on helping users navigate government services based on their lived experience like facing a financial shock, instead of asking residents to navigate across several agency websites to find benefits they may be eligible to receive.

Research incorporated input from over 300 residents, included over 370 hours of moderated and unmoderated interviews, and solicited 189 survey responses. CODE PA also worked with First Lady Lori Shapiro to host “Lori Listens” focus groups sessions to gather input from Pennsylvanians on what digital services they need and where critical improvements can be made. Those sessions have already informed enhancements for the website, including a new grants search experience that is planned to go live later this year.

“Today’s launch is the start of a new chapter for how Pennsylvanians interact with the Commonwealth online,” said Bry Pardoe, Executive Director of CODE PA. “We promise to continuously seek feedback from residents so that we can make more improvements to the websites launched in this first phase and incorporate lessons learned into the ongoing work to redesign the rest of PA.gov sites.”