Eliminate the endless page downs through paragraphs, lines and linked URLs that were common web page designs from the early 1990s. These are neither user-friendly nor engaging and serve to bury information for all but the most intrepid.
Content and Readability
What can we do to improve the content on federal websites to make it more readable, engaging, and useful?
When jobs are listed on USAJOBS please list the qualification requirements and pay scales in language that non-military and current non-governmental people can understand, or provide links or mouse-overs that provide a basic explination of requirements. Also, add a mandatory reply system. Applicants are notified that their resumes are accepted, but there is zero follow up when it comes to whether or not the person is ...more »
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 »
Avoid wasted introductory language such as "Welcome to the XXXX website" and mission statements on home pages. Let people get down to business quickly.
Create better content that is relevant, timely and actionable -- how does it affect people? Federal agencies are so huge compared with the local social services or zoning offices, so people want to know what's in it for them.
Wanna save $? Use free technology, save the remainder that you would've spent on licenses and SLAs and instead spend a fraction of it on cheap hosting, proper support, staffing and training.
Oh, and then let your programmers contribute the modules they build to the community for re-use.
When content is posted, users should be able to vote and comment on that content - similar to how things work on Idea Scale. This would allow content creators a quick way of evaluating and refining their material.
Government websites need content strategy guidelines for best practices so there will be people trained and dedicated to the content process who can ensure accuracy, quality, and a workflow to getting good content created, approved and published in a way that meets the needs of the users. Content must be collaborated on and the process of content creation needs management so that standards can improve, the websites can ...more »
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.
One frustration web managers have had from the beginning is the tug for space on the home page. Public affairs offices often want to use that "front page" for press releases and administration news, while web managers and usability experts know customers expect to find and start using top tasks on the home page. Maybe the answer is to give public affairs offices - and customers - one source for agency news. Create ...more »
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.
Similar to the suggestion to create websites focused on consumer desires rather than by agency, all government websites should be linked together by type of information and to similar or linked information (i.e. DOT consumer information should link to all modal [FAA/NHWA/FRA/PHMSA] consumer websites) as well as to other commercial websites (i.e. FAA should provide links to airline consumer websites). That way consumers ...more »
For articles with any degree of complexity, include both "exec summary" and graph(s) wherever possible. Especially with graphs, make them ongoing, add to as new data occurs, arrange to automatically "re-publish" with each addition of new data, in order to keep interest current. With "summaries," may be as simple as "bullets" or "talking points," so long as they accurately reflect copy.
Govt should get better at marketing and promoting its content and services available online through traditional means as well as through new media channels. There should be a marketing plan in place before launching a new initiative or effort online. It shouldn't be an after-thought. There is good govt info out there but sometimes nobody knows about it. Let's develop relationships with the media, bloggers, etc...and let's ...more »
Videos are becoming more and more popular on the web and at times can help explain concepts and information much better than text. Let's create a govt video community of practice and let's learn from others inside and outside of govt that are producing good, high-quality videos and are using them strategically in order to engage users in creative ways. Video can really support open government principles and make our content ...more »