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

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

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

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 »

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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

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

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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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 »

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29 votes
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Content and Readability

More Not Less: Don't Let Popularity Decide What's Online

One of the suggestions we hear a lot is to discard pages and sites which don't get a lot of traffic. However, we need to, as a government which serves all of the people, not just most of the people, be very careful of that idea. Because if popularity decides what's online, you'll never see information about topics like orphan diseases, or a small national park hidden in the Oklahoma/Texas panhandle, etc. The Internet ...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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Content and Readability

More about what we (citizens) can do instead of what gov does

We want to know what WE can do to make changes in our lives and in the country. We don't need to read what the various departments do. Make it about us.

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Content and Readability

Allow personalization and customization of websites

Create a method to allow all government websites to personalize or customize content for users based on location, demographics, interests, preferences, frequently used content, etc. without violating personal privacy.

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17 votes
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