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 »

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Policies and Principles

Open Source as the Default License

When government technology is acquired, contracts should stipulate that the software being developed (at taxpayer expense) is released with an OSI (open source institute) approved open source license. This would allow for reduced intergovernmental expense, and further innovation. Further -- it's morally appropriate: taxpayer funded software ought to belong to the public, much like taxpayer funded content cannot be held ...more »

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Empower "Search Police"

There should be an enforcement mechanism if someone is publishing a page that commits publishing sins such as: 1) No sitemap 2) No SEO friendly publishing 3) Not leveraging Schema.org or other open initiatives If someone isn't doing this, someone should have the power to do something about it versus talking. Running a web site is not cheap in the government, and publishing the content so it can't be found is a waste ...more »

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Usability and Design

Make .gov sites beautiful

It is right that so much of the emphasis in the ideas here speaks to ensuring usable, functional, easy-to-read sites. But I'd like to speak up for beauty a bit. Assuming they are also functional, I believe beautiful, carefully designed and crafted websites help people feel more confident in the agency or department they are dealing with. It helps them feel the site is current and modern. It can help them to feel that ...more »

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Policies and Principles

Design for Dignity

I think Richard Buchanan's expertise in design is relevant throughout. Just one of the many gems: "Human-centered design is fundamentally an affirmation of human dignity. It is an ongoing search for what can be done to support and strengthen the dignity of human beings as they act out their lives in varied social, economic, political, and cultural circumstances." (Design Issues: Volume 17, No 3 Summer 2001 p.37 ...more »

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Pay Experts

While it may take some procurement reform to happen, it really ought to be the case that government start paying the people that it needs advice from. There's a space between "government contractor" and "concerned citizen" that needs to be filled with a contracting methodology that's fast, easy, and limited (say -- under $10,000). As long as it doesn't do this, dialogues from the public and experts will be an afterthought ...more »

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Conceptual Model of a governance website

We don't have a coherent conceptual model of a governance website. Our websites display information that can be updated in realtime, and accept input from every individual user. Currently, however, websites are being built and run as "smart kiosks" capable of limited two-way interaction and dispensing. But the design philosophy behind what is shown, what is engaged, is based on all previous media being digitized ...more »

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Why aren’t they?

Why aren’t government web sites top notch already? No incentive. If you want the site to be top notch then hire it done and hold their feet to the fire. Government, IMHO, should hire everything in theses economic times. If Government does it, it only gets done once. If Government hires it done then that company may take the idea and sell it.

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