Celebrating Digital.gov Communities: 2021 in Review

Happenings, milestones, and data points from the past year.

2021, what a year!

Despite the real challenges we as a nation faced in 2021, Digital.gov’s communities held strong.

We would like to thank our community leads and members for partnering with us throughout the year to provide engaging events, content, and discussion forums to those interested in digital transformation.

Digital.gov’s mission is to transform how the federal government learns, builds, delivers, and measures digital services to the public. We have been organizing communities for more than 20 years, starting with the first in-person meeting of the Web Managers community on October 31, 2000. Fast forward to 2021, and all Digital.gov community events were held virtually for the first year ever.

We hosted 65 events with a total of 16,157 attendees. We held events and published articles in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and International Plain Language Day. Digital.gov events averaged 249 attendees per event with satisfaction scores averaging 4.5 out of 5. We also held dozens of other community meetings, like huddles — where we engaged with smaller groups on topics like organizational change and communication techniques.

The pandemic showed us how important communities are for people to be able to connect with like-minded peers in a virtual environment when the office space and in-person gatherings as we know it were stripped away. So, we quickly learned how to best collaborate through a computer monitor, bringing together experts, newbies, and those in between, to learn more about digital transformation. We blogged, tweeted, and posted our ideas, best practices, and success stories. We used our networks to crowdsource solutions to digital challenges.

We helped each other, and we made it through another year together. Here are some of the highlights from 2021.

A line drawing of a blank calendar icon in medium blue. It has six dots coming down from the cloud to indicate snowflakes.January

The Plain Language Community kicked off the year with an event detailing the results of the 2020 Federal Plain Language Report Card. The U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) Community hosted their monthly meeting on journey mapping and service blueprints. Did you know, the design system is a toolkit of principles, guidance, and code to help government teams design and build accessible, mobile-friendly websites backed by user research and modern best practices?

A line drawing of a heart icon in medium blue.February

Digital.gov communities showed their love for a few favorite topics in February, with events on how to teach in a virtual setting, a preview of the USWDS 2021 roadmap, using chatbots to improve the customer experience, and tag manager features you should know.

A line drawing of a wind icon in medium blue has three lines of varying length that go from left to right, ending with curls. The first two lines curl up, the third curls down.March

No spring fever here! Digital.gov published a resource on how to present like a pro and an article on delivering secure, usable login for government security. The Accessibility and Plain Language Communities co-hosted an event on what digital managers can do to help people get and understand information. The USWDS Community shared what to expect with USWDS 2.11.0, Digital Analytics Program (DAP) experts presented a second session on tag managers, and the Artificial Intelligence Community brought in experts from the Department of Homeland Security to talk about their artificial intelligence strategy.

A line drawing of a cloud icon in medium blue. It has three lines coming down from the cloud to indicate rain.April

April showers brought a two-day session from the Social Media Community focused on social media advertising and best practices. Other events featured plain language compliance testing, why use the USWDS, and how NIST built a legal framework for challenges and prize competitions. The Digital.gov news page featured the article, The Federal Web in the Year of COVID-19, and the Web Managers Community published a recap of February’s event on using chatbots to improve customer experience.

A line drawing of a potted plant icon in medium blue.May

We learned about developmental opportunities available for federal government employees, how to prepare your agency if you are targeted by deep fakes, and how to position yourself as a plain language editor.

For Global Accessibility Awareness Day, communities co-hosted events on creating more inclusive websites and accessible digital content. One of our expert community leads published 8 Ways Community of Practice Managers Can Improve Member Engagement on Listservs.

A line drawing of a sun icon in medium blue.June

The Challenge and Prize Community kicked off the summer season chatting with innovation leaders at the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Plain Language Community hosted Using Words to Build Better Digital Experiences, and the design system team unpacked their new pagination component. The User Experience (UX) Community also hosted a three-day UX Summit.

And, last but not least, the Social Media Community hosted a conversation with White House Director of Digital Strategy, Robert Flaherty. Read the event recap to get an inside look at how the White House is thinking about digital strategy.

A line drawing of a sun icon in medium blue.July

Digital.gov hosted lively discussions on telling our stories using plain language, how to align culture and digital strategy, and assessing your analytics program. The Multilingual Community published a resource on 6 ways translation glossaries help agencies succeed in sharing information, and a new community of practice was launched. Welcome, Innovation Adoption Community!

A line drawing of a sun icon in medium blue.August

The Social Media Community hosted a 2-day summer blockbuster on intellectual property and social media rules of conduct, and the Robotic Process Automation Community published 5 Tips for Implementing Citizen Development.

A line drawing of an open book icon in medium blue.September

Ending out the fiscal year, we discussed analytics objectives and key performance indicators, and the future of the U.S. Web Design System. The Plain Language Community hosted their annual summit, bringing in eight experts across government to highlight success stories.

Want to plan a federal prize competition? Check out this event recap of the Challenge and Prize Community’s spotlight chat with leaders of the Lab-to-Market Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem Prize Competition.

A line drawing of a waning crescent moon icon in medium blue.October

In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Digital.gov’s Multilingual and Social Media Communities co-hosted an event on how to best connect with your Spanish-speaking audience during an emergency. The design system team highlighted the importance of community, connection, and contribution; read the recap.

A line drawing of an icon in medium blue has two figures overlapping each other.November

The Federal Leadership and Professional Development Community hosted an engaging event on hybrid and telework strategies with more than 1,000 people attending.

A line drawing of a gift box with a bow icon in medium blue.December

December brought a lively discussion on the 2021 Federal Plain Language Report Card, and a live demo on USWDS template creation and rapid prototyping.

In addition to joining our communities of practice and signing up for our twice-monthly newsletter, stay informed by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

We look forward to connecting with you!

GSA | Washington, DC

GSA | Washington, DC