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.

Voting

225 votes
Active

Services and Transactions

Create content around topics/customers - not agencies

Customers don't know - and don't care to know - how government is organized. So why make them go from agency (website) to agency (website) to get the full picture of what govt has to offer them on any subject? Why make them go through a long list of links on USA.gov? Why not get agencies together around content topics or customer groups(owning a home, sending kids to college, services for seniors, contractors) and... more »

Voting

160 votes
Active
(@jonathanrubin)

Policies and Principles

Make usability testing and 508 testing required PRIOR to launch

Launching sites without usability testing and 508 testing is a waste of time and money - it's always more expensive to fix these issues when left to the last minute. Rather, institutionalizing user testing (like GSA's First Fridays, for example) as well as 508 testing into the development cycle of government websites will result in better, more efficient and cheaper products .

Voting

139 votes
Active

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 »

Voting

114 votes
Active

Usability and Design

Commit to best practices

The main issue with government sites is that many of them are being run by people whose idea of the Web stopped growing around 2002. There are Web basics--testing with real users, formative user research, and advanced metrics and analytics programs--that everyone in the commercial sector is doing. The government needs to get with the program or risk total irrelevance. Another hint: ease off on Twitter and Facebook. You... more »

Voting

92 votes
Active

Services and Transactions

Simplify Online Services

Help citizens quickly perform transactions & use online services via simple, secure web forms that walk citizens through each step of the process. Some considerations are: - Identify the steps involved for front end users in completing online transactions - Optimize each step of the workflow (user creates an account, validates account, fills out form, submits form). Where to put instructions? How many fields are optimal?... more »

Voting

84 votes
Active
(@jonathanrubin)

Policies and Principles

Needed: Web manager for **every** site

The problem of not knowing who is in charge of a website should not exist. Every site should have a web manager who has ultimate control over the content of that site, and who people should contact in terms of needing posts, edits, etc. It shouldn't be a mystery. While we're at it, it might not hurt to have content leads listed at the bottom of each page as well, as well as the date last updated.

Voting

79 votes
Active

Usability and Design

Optimize user paths

Before re-designing an existing site or beginning the design or development of a new site, determine who is going to be using the site and what they will be trying to do there. Optimize the site organization and user flows for easy and frustration-free accomplishment of their primary tasks/goals in using the site.

Voting

77 votes
Active

Policies and Principles

Discontinue Usage of IE6

IE6 is extremely buggy and outdated. It is increasingly more and more difficult to design websites with IE6 in mind. There is no good reason why one should be using IE6 15 years after it was created.

Voting

69 votes
Active

Policies and Principles

Find ways for agencies to work together

Create a central resource for all agency web teams to communicate, share code, establish conventions, and learn from one another. Then put a premium on making agency systems interoperable (probably through APIs because unification on a single platform is a pipe-dream). With agencies working together to establish conventions, the building and maintenance of federal websites would be far more efficient, enabling a reduction... more »

Voting

65 votes
Active

Content and Readability

Create a federal website content strategy

I'm reading a lot of terrific ideas here, but they are all proposed TACTICS. Without a unifying content strategy, these tactics will inevitably be taken on as one-off efforts, which result in the same inconsistencies and redundancies that exist today. Over the years, we have all attempted to “fix” our content with visual rebrands, website redesigns, new CMS technology, rewrites, and other tactical approaches. None of... more »

Voting

65 votes
Active

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 »

Voting

64 votes
Active
(@terrencehill)

Social Media

Do Not Replicate Social Media

Do not waste money trying to cfreate immitations of social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, or others. Instead, use closed groups using existing social networks. Government should focus on developing government-specific systems.

Voting

63 votes
Active

Accessibility

Train web developers beyond Section 508

Some of the most important accessibility best practices are not required by Section 508. Logically ordered heading tags for example, or links with clear purpose (instead of "click here", "Read our August 2011 Newsletter"). It seems everyone simply adds ALT attributes to images and calls it a day. We need to train web developers and designers in more than basic Section 508 and ensure they understand accessibility beyond... more »

Voting

60 votes
Active