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 »

Voting

114 votes
Active

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 »

Voting

92 votes
Active

Services and Transactions

Simplify Online Services

Help citizens quickly perform transactions & use online services via simple, secure web forms that walk citizens through each step of the process. Some considerations are: - Identify the steps involved for front end users in completing online transactions - Optimize each step of the workflow (user creates an account, validates account, fills out form, submits form). Where to put instructions? How many fields are optimal? ...more »

Voting

84 votes
Active

Policies and Principles

Need coordinated teams of specialists vs. too few generalists

One thing I hate to see is agencies where the people managing the web don't have adequate teams and support, and may need training themselves but are spread so thin that they are forced to be generalists instead of specialists. The web should be staffed adequately, and employ modern technology (content management systems, anyone?), not be an afterthought in communication, PR and/or IT staffing needs. Sure, we need ...more »

Voting

46 votes
Active

Usability and Design

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 »

Voting

36 votes
Active

Usability and Design

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.

Voting

33 votes
Active
(@maria.marrero)

Usability and Design

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 »

Voting

31 votes
Active

Policies and Principles

Accessibility Integration

Accessibility must be integrated into all aspects of online communication. From policy and training through design and implementation, the principle of equal access for people with disabilities must be recognized as a civil right that cannot be compromised.

Voting

25 votes
Active

Policies and Principles

Put users first, institutional priorities second

Government websites are too complex because they focus more on "We have audiences, how do we want them to use our website?" and less on "We have audiences, how do they want us to use our website?" -There's too much unnecessary content and not enough high-quality content. -Information structures are based on institutional silos, not on user needs. -Language is not plain or fun. -There's not enough non-text content. -Visually, ...more »

Voting

21 votes
Active

Policies and Principles

Make every website usable by "Average Joe Americans"

Many of the publically available websites are designed for "insider wonks" not for "Average Joe Americans" -- example being the query sites to access government documents where you need a PhD and read a 1000 page "how to" document before you can figure out how to query for what you need. Another example being trying to figure out how to download historical weather data from NOAA -- which appears to be set up to meet ...more »

Voting

21 votes
Active

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 »

Voting

20 votes
Active

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 »

Voting

19 votes
Active