Usability and Design


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

Usability and Design

do not use paper mail for passwords

SSA password reset, if you forgot your password, requires that a new temporary password be mailed to you which could take 15 days. This is ridiculous and wasteful. It defeats the purpose of the web site which is instant access, adds a paper process and mailing and is not particularly secure. Password resets on commercial sites including banks involve a valid e-mail address and sometimes identifying questions.

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Usability and Design

Build a mental model to organize by task, not by govt viewpoint

The average citizen may not know the department or the process name or the bulletin number that applies to them. Do a full mental model process to understand user tasks and goals and organize government sites according to these goals and tasks. use the nuances learned of citizen attitudes and concerns to guide the feel and messaging for the site.

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Usability and Design

Consolidate all agency hiring into one website

Most agencies have separate web sites to apply for their job offerings. USAJOBS.GOV has some information that will transfer into agency web sites, but the applicant still usually has to create a new account and profile, and fill out all new information pages at each agency web site, in addition to what they created in USAJOBS.GOV. If possible, create one standardized web site, or modify USAJOBS.GOV, that can lead the ...more »

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Usability and Design

Analytics Support

One of the hardest things for agency sites is having consistent methods, and tools, for measuring web statistics and analyzing those data to make informed recommendations on improving websites and other outreach efforts. If the government had a consistent approach to measurement and analytics for web presences (mobile, traditional, social) then we could all be working from the same page and making sure we're doing what ...more »

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Usability and Design

New title for MedlinePlus?

MedlinePlus is a very useful site, but the name often gives people (both consumers and health providers) the idea that it is a super-clinically oriented version of Medline. While on a project visiting rural health clinics throughout the state, many providers indicated that they had not realized what MedlinePlus was or that it had patient information. The name intimidates people from trying it. Possible to change the name ...more »

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Usability and Design

Every Agency Should Have UX Expert on Staff

I know, budgets are tight, layoffs are imminent, non-professionals can do simple product tests, but does your agency have a budget analyst? A configuration manager? A security specialist? In America, what we value, we pay for. If an agency says that that good customer experience is a business priority, it must have a UX professional on staff. Period. Even contracting for a usability vendor is difficult without a UX professional ...more »

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Usability and Design

Do not strand the user

Every time an action can be taken, provide the link next to the information, not somewhere else on the page. If there is software required, provide the link to download the software. For instance I am on the patent office site and there is a missing plug-in. It shows the logo of the missing plug-in but not the name of the product or a link to get to it. Without even having the name I can't search for the plug-in. This ...more »

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Usability and Design

Government websites are the same as mainstream websites (almost)

Regarding usability, government websites are mostly the same as mainstream websites, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. 3 reasons: a) Jakob's Law of the Internet User Experience states that "users spend most of their time on *other* sites than your site" and form their expectations for your site based on their cumulative experience on those many other sites. b) Most Web design guidelines are the same across ...more »

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Usability and Design

Group like content, improve readability, scanability

Government websites are very outdated, and even the ones that have had redesigns recently still feel very clunky. Contrast is good, agreeing with Section 508. Most, if not all of the sites boast solid darks on lights which aid in readability, however, leading (space between lines of text) is very tight in many cases. Paragraph spacing should be consistent. Headings should be consistent. Links should be clear, and also ...more »

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