New York’s DMV Site Wins Award So Let’s Conduct a Mini Content Audit

October 14, 2015 by

content auditThe National Association of Government Web Professionals (NAGW) announced in September that New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles website earned the Pinnacle Award and Members’ Choice for 2015. The DMV earned the award in the State/NGO category.

Pinnacle Awards are judged by web professionals inside and outside of government based on the following criteria: team size, content, organization, design, performance and flexibility, accessibility standards, and interactivity.

Since finding out about the New York State DMV’s award, I thought it might be interesting to conduct a mini-audit of the website. I offer a content audit service for my clients to discover website content strengths and barriers to success. I analyze how content performs as an online sales force, how it reads, and how well it guides visitors thru the sales process.

One of the tools I use for a content audit is my 35 Point Usability Checklist. So let's go with six of the thirty-five quality content audit points as we analyze

Site Identity
Audit Point: Show your company name and logo in the upper left hand corner.

DMV: Yes, New York and Department of Motor Vehicles are prominent and in large font in upper left hand corner of the homepage.

Audit Point: Include a tagline that summarizes what your company does in a customer-focused promise statement.

DMV: Yes minus with, “State of Opportunity.” The tagline is there, but this is generic to the State, not DMV.

Audit Point: Include a solution-oriented headline that emphasizes your unique value and the promise you offer from the visitor’s point of view, with words your visitor would use.


The place for the headline is at the top of the page above the fold.

Unfortunately the top of the site is a slider. Sliders are annoying because they take time to read and there’s too much information sliding by too fast. Maybe I find them frustrating because I’m older, but to me they’re also a cop out by designers who couldn’t help their clients come up with a good enough headline.

The DMV slider contains some good info and some that’s unnecessary. “Take Your Eye Test” is good. So is “Renewing Your License Or Registration At The Last Minute? No problem! Do it online and print temporary documents instantly.”

But, “Seat Belt Compliance” doesn’t seem important enough to be in this prime spot above the fold. And “Make A Reservation! Make a reservation online and save time,” isn’t clear as to what we’re making a reservation for.

But, Site Identity still gets an A. Why an A?

Because above the slider is a clearly marked navigation menu with all of the transactions that most likely brought you to the DMV website in the first place. It’s almost as if this terrific navigation menu makes the slider irrelevant.

Content Strength
Audit Point: Give visitors enough information to help them understand what you do.

DMV: I took a page from the top navigation menu and the headline and first sentence look good, “Register and Title a Vehicle,” and then, “You or your business must register and title at a DMV office any vehicle you own or lease.” The page goes on to answer the questions people typically bring to the page. (I know this because I used to be in the insurance business, and the content here is right on!)

Audit Point: Include a keyword rich headline (avoid using the meaningless word “welcome”).

DMV: Perfect headline for the page, “Register and Title a Vehicle”. Tells exactly what the page is about with the title tag containing the same words so the search engines will easily know what the page is about.

Audit Point: Make sure the content is inviting each visitor to share the site with others and also to join a Facebook Fan Page, Twitter page and other social media communities as appropriate.

DMV: Well done with a button at the top of the page “SHARE” linked to a page listing 93 social media and news sites! Beautiful. I need to look into a page like this for me and my clients.

Also, an invitation to join company social media pages in the footer, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram.

Content Strength gets an A+.

Just 6 of the 35 points on my Usability Checklist, but you can see that the New York State DMV site is worth looking at to pick up some good ideas for your website. Congratulations to the State of New York for investing in a well-designed, visitor-centric site that really helps visitors get their work done.

Until next time,

PS Want me to audit your site so you can find out exactly where your content can improve to drive traffic, engage visitors, and convert leads to sales? I'd be happy to speak with you, just get in touch with me below...

Nick Burns is an SEO web writer specializing in persuasive copywriting and content marketing. He provides clients a winning content strategy plus the special web writing to make it work. You can contact Nick here.