Usability and Design


What can we do to improve the usability, navigation, and design of federal websites?

Usability and Design

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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 »

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Usability and Design

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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.

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77 votes
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Usability and Design

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Create a user-friendly error page for "eliminated" sites

In the spirit of a common experience, create and implement a standard error page for every federal .gov website that is decommissioned, archived, or otherwise removed from public access. Offer a friendly, plain-language explanation, the ability to search all .gov websites, and perhaps a link to USA.gov and / or a centralized .gov archive. This will prevent ISPs from serving ads when a user goes to a .gov website that ...more »

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54 votes
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Usability and Design

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Build usability in, starting with the RFP

If usability is not in the request for proposals, it can be difficult to add it after contract award, and bidders are unlikely to propose it for fear of adding cost and not being selected. RFPs should require not only that the end product be usable and that usability be tested before launch, but that the project follow a user-centered design process throughout the lifecycle. For information on the human-centered design ...more »

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36 votes
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Usability and Design

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Usable with Any Browser

Some federal websites have been designed to work with specific browsers. Websites should be viewable and usable with any browser on any operating system. For example, one DOT website is only usable with Internet Explorer. Individuals who typically use Firefox or Chrome or any other browser are forced to download and use IE. Mac users are out of luck.

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33 votes
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Usability and Design

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Standardized CMS & Templates

While I think creativity is important and should be preserved, there really should be more standardization and consistency for web design when sites are related or linked to each other. Likewise, Content Management Systems (which generally effect overall design) can improve consistency from a functional standpoint. Ideally, all government sites could have at least some common design element to establish identity - ...more »

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31 votes
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Usability and Design

Submitted by (@maria.marrero)

Build in accessibility during the visual design phase.

Graphic designers should work closely with accessibility /508 experts before implementing a design into a website. Some accessibility issues can be avoided or/and fixed early during the visual design phase. For example, some of the principals that should be considered to make a design accessible are: Color contrast, use of CAPS, font size, heading structure, reading order, form controls. A great related resource: http://webaim.org/resources/designers/#infographic ...more »

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31 votes
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Usability and Design

Submitted by (@corey0)

Fail on Paper!

I recommend a robust discovery and design process that emphasizes user-centered interaction design best practices.

 

Research-informed user-tested high-fidelity wireframe prototypes - that's the point in development to identify usability issues and adjust. Fail on paper, as it were, not post-launch!

 

'Getting it right' before engineering may require a greater time investment up-front, but it pays off.

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30 votes
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Usability and Design

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User-Centered Design

There is a process by which web-sites and on-line transactions are made efficient, effective, and satisfying to the user. It's called user-centered design and is successfully executed by qualified user-experience professionals.

 

Ensure that all Federal agencies are equipped with the resources and processes to implement user-centered design into their software development life-cycle.

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28 votes
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