I have an investment account with a firm whose website first asks if I'm an individual or a business.
I have a savings account with a bank whose website first asks which country I live in and if I'm trying to do credit card, savings, checking, loans, etc.
I looked up some medical information on the CDC website and it had separate areas for the general public and medical professionals that stemmed from the same page. This was great because I could look up basic information on the page intended for the public but had a couple technical questions for which I knew I needed to go to the medical professionals page. I thought this was a logical and efficient way to organize the information.
But when I go to my agency's website (www.ed.gov), the only customer with a link is "Teachers," so I clicked on it. But there are no resources there for teachers; there are only blogs posts and press releases. I have to ask for whom we are working? I imagine there are quite a few frustrated customers out, because they can't find what information they want and have little clue how to go about finding it in the website mazes we have. Teachers are our customers. Parents, principals, superintendents, school boards, school districts, State educational agencies, State superintendents, State boards of education, and anyone who pays property taxes directly or indirectly via rent are our customers. And let's not forget our most important customers: students (youth and adult) and individuals (youth and adult) who are out of formal education but would better find fulfillment if they had additional education or vocational training. But the few resources we do have for any of these groups are buried under several layers. What if the website's home page had three options: Learners and Beneficiaries (students, those who receive services through ED programs, ED grantees), Supporters (teachers, parents, etc.), and Our Other Customers and the Public. Then, along with options on each of those subordinate pages, there would be sub-categories for each type of customer. For example, for Learners and Beneficiaries, there would be an area with links to subordinate pages for: Students, non-Student beneficiaries of ED programs, ED grantees). On the Students page, beyond a list of relevant topics, there would then be an area for types of students: K-8th graders, high schoolers, undergraduate students, graduate students, returning students, and adult education and lifelong learners. For High Schoolers, a link to information about considerations for and applying to college would be essential. But we'd also have links to information on financing college and their initial FAFSA application, the SAT and ACT and preparing for them, bullet points summarizing provisions of Federal law protecting them and their interests (including privacy), and data of interest to them.
There are two points here: one, the Federal government should organize its information and processes in a customer-oriented manner; two, the Federal government should make sure it focuses its information dissemination efforts on things its customers actually care about rather than blog posts and press releases, the play-by-play on Beltway policy debates, niche resources like CFDA entries, and bureaucratic information like the advisory boards and commissions we have.
In short, each agency should think about its mission statement, figure out its de jure (e.g., students) and de facto (e.g., school districts and other grantees) customers, and develop an information taxonomy around them by which to guide website redesign.