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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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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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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.

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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 »

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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.

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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 »

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