Usability and Design

Issues Pertaining to Usability

There are several aspects of regulations.gov that could be improved. First, although the website offers links to the pertinent portions of the NPRM, the cite lacks a plain language summary of the rules. It is conceivable that users will not find the text of the NRPM helpful in clarifying questions they may have about a proposed rule. Offering a plain language summary, in addition to the NPRM, could enhance both user ...more »

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Content in other languages

Consider education level of multicultural audiences

Cultural relevancy is of utmost importance, especially in the healthcare and educational realms. However, it is key to keep in mind that there are members of the LEP audience that do not have a working reading level in their own native language, let alone a low degree of Internet literacy. Pertinent website content may require an audio component to further reach an audience that hails from a more oral tradition. Another ...more »

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Content and Readability

Keep it simple

The value of a web site is not only its content but in ease of accessibility and movement throughout the site. There is nothing more frustrating than to maneuver unsuccessfully and waste precious time in the process.

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Policies and Principles

Sentence Structure

The grammar of web language differs greatly from the grammar and style of print. We expect to read shorter sentences, not necessarily all full sentences. Importing print-based sentence structures into a website, especially for key orientation pages and links defeats the point of using a website to build and convey information.

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Search

Search Becomes Strategic - Tied to User Experience

With the recent changes at Google, fixing the search functionality for .gov websites becomes more closely tied to the user experience. This means bringing in user experience professionals who have deep knowledge/expertise in search technology (that powers the site search for these sites) OR search professionals who has a strong background in user experience and information architecture. All too often, designing a successful ...more »

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Content and Readability

Treat web sites as communication channels

Too often federal web sites are designed and managed as technical devices rather than channels for communication. Programs that sponsor web sites and web designers should be required to answer: who is the audience/end user and what do we know about their needs and wants? Then the program can decide if there is a clear purpose, what the content will be and how it will be presented. Best if they do that using a participatory ...more »

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Content and Readability

Regulations.gov rules should be summarized

The average American has neither the time nor the inclination to read through hundreds of pages an agency has posted describing a proposed rule. To make the rule more accessible to nonlawyers, it would be helpful if a one- or two-page summary of the rule could be posted highlighting questions the agency needs answered. I also found the search function on the site was difficult to use if you didn't happen to know the ...more »

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Content and Readability

content must be simplified

Time is limited for everyone who reads online materials. If content is produced in terms the lay person easily understands, engagement can follow with links. Transparency of government will engage citizens, but engagement fades with cluttered, jumbled websites full of specialized jargon. Set up links to more "in depth" information, instead of overloading the introductory page. Hire professional communication people. ...more »

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Content and Readability

Syndicate Content to Create Consistency Across the Nation

For every federal program that is carried out on the local level, there are at least 50 states who replicate that content and thousands of counties who do so as well. Rather than so many descriptions of, say, SNAP [old food stamp program], provide local agencis with the basics in syndicated format -- and written in plain language -- that they can integrate into their pages. CDC does some of this already.

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Content and Readability

Avoid Adobe PDF, Flash, Office Docs! Use Only HTML Forms & Docs

Avoid the use of these proprietary formats which require external plugins and are usually never accessible. HTML is always the most accessible and universal format that works on all devices from Cell Phones to Kindles to iPads. HTML is open source and does not require expensive tools like Adobe Acrobat Professional or Flash to develop. HTML is indexable by search engines and makes it easier for the public to find the ...more »

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