Linking smartly between Mass.gov and external applications

Make it easy for constituents to move back and forth to find information.

Overview

Mass.gov provides access to important external applications for everything from checking the status of your tax refund to renewing a driver’s license to applying for child support services. It’s crucial that the links from your organization’s pages to those apps are clear, and that the links back from those apps to your content make sense.

If you want to learn more about how your audience navigates between Mass.gov and another website, Mass Digital can help. We can set up web analytics that provides visibility into your traffic across Mass.gov and your other websites. To learn more about how we do this and how it might benefit you, please submit a ServiceNow request.

From Mass.gov to apps

Don’t assume that constituents will know the name of your external app. Depending on the content type that links to the app, use the Overview, Short Description, or other text fields to explain what the app is.

The short description of this How-to page provides context about what the MassTaxConnect application can be used for.

You’ll also want to carefully word the text on Quick Action and other buttons so that people know what they can do, regardless of whether they’re familiar with the offsite app’s name. For example:

An example of informative link text on a Service page.

Make sure to take full advantage of features within the content management system that allow you to highlight external apps. The Organization page now features a sub-navigation menu that has a field dubbed “Log in to…” where you can link directly to such apps.

Take full advantage of the tools on the Organization subnav.

From apps to Mass.gov

While it’s important to give Mass.gov visitors clear directions to offsite apps (whether or not they realize they’re going offsite), it’s also vital that links on those apps that go to Mass.gov are linking to pages that make sense. After all, these apps refer hundreds of thousands of people to Mass.gov monthly.

Links from those apps generally should not direct users to the Mass.gov homepage, but rather, to a page that features specific content, such as contact information or relevant background. The Division of Local Services’ DLS Gateway app, for example, features links that go to focused pages, like one for app support.

It’s possible that your Mass.gov content creation team is not directly involved in designing your organization’s external applications, but it’s worth having a line of communication with the app team to ensure that you’re on the same page when it comes to links.

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