Content and Readability


What can we do to improve the content on federal websites to make it more readable, engaging, and useful?

Content and Readability

Differentiate between ephemeral and evergreen content

Some content remains valid for a long time, and serves as an ongoing resource. Other content primarily serves the purpose of providing an update, but becomes dated and inaccurate quickly. Consciously consider the differences and act accordingly. I've seen it happen time and again where really solid content that has been carefully crafted for a long life gets drowned out by press-releasy stuff because they are in the ...more »

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Content and Readability

Plain language on government websites

Too much of the information on federal websites is poorly written and is too complex, especially for the web. Content managers need to pay more attention to the clarity of information. Most federal web content is covered by the Plain Writing Act of 2010, but transforming federal material into plain language will be a major challenge, especially since the underlying paper-based information is poorly written.

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Content and Readability

A users forum to accompany every .gov website.

In the web design community, the use of moderated forums has been huge for the advancement of best practices and crowd-sourced customer support. Two examples that come to mind are: http://wordpress.org/support http://stackexchange.com Communities like these help to quickly answer user's questions, offer helpful advice, share experiences, etc. This would add a human voice to the often dry and frankly, unreadable instructions ...more »

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-16 votes
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Content and Readability

Enable easy ranking/satisfaction of content

Make it mandatory that all pages/content be enabled with a simple satisfaction rating of that page/content. Perhaps using the 5 star rating. Current ACSI surveys are too bulky and limit the number of responses (13% response rates are "good"). A simple "Was the content on this page helpful?" or similar would be more effective and could be mashed-up into dashboards for measuring individual author, subsite, search engine, ...more »

Submitted by (@cjguru)

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Content and Readability

Ban the alphabet soup

Maybe not an official ban, but there really needs to be an effort to avoid at all costs (or at least first mention) the use of acronyms. If you'd have to explain the acronym to your dad, then you shouldn't use it. We should think of them as swear words. If everyone had to pay a quarter each time they dropped an acronym, we could fill the deficit. :)

 

(I was tempted to categorize this as "Content in other languages.)

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Content and Readability

PDFs cannot be preferred publishing methods

When it comes to content, the easiest thing for us to do as Federal agencies is publish a PDF. Some of the most informative documents on agency web sites are things like their strategic plans, their reports to Congress, their budget justifications, etc. Too often, in the interest of speed of publication, the pages with this type of information become document farms for 100+ page PDFs. These are information-rich documents ...more »

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Content and Readability

Consolidate All Law-Enforcement Websites

Require all law enforcement agencies to post public content on one consolidated website. Information should be sorted by location/zip code, but this website would be used to post all Amber Alerts, Terrorist Alerts, and other information that the public or local/state law enforcement agencies (who also would have a role in the system) can use.

Submitted by (@terrencehill)

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Content and Readability

Create Websites That Link Information and Sites

Similar to the suggestion to create websites focused on consumer desires rather than by agency, all government websites should be linked together by type of information and to similar or linked information (i.e. DOT consumer information should link to all modal [FAA/NHWA/FRA/PHMSA] consumer websites) as well as to other commercial websites (i.e. FAA should provide links to airline consumer websites). That way consumers ...more »

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Content and Readability

Create data driven pages when possible

Many sites use hard coded, html based information that can not be reused/leveraged. When changes are required a content publisher/designer must be involved. Instead, start with data. For instance, organization charts. An org chart is a list of organizations and perhaps a field such as "parent" to relate one organization with the next. If this list was created before rendering the org chart, it could be reused internally/externally ...more »

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