Campaign: 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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Campaign: Usability and Design

Interview Users Before Redesign Kickoff

Timing is everything. Doing user research (usability testing) after the redesign is too late in the process. Find what your target audience needs by conducting user interviews early in the project. Avoid learning what you have done wrong by the time is too late to fix it.

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Campaign: 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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Campaign: 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 »

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21 votes
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Campaign: Usability and Design

Every Agency Should Have UX Expert on Staff

I know, budgets are tight, layoffs are imminent, non-professionals can do simple product tests, but does your agency have a budget analyst? A configuration manager? A security specialist? In America, what we value, we pay for. If an agency says that that good customer experience is a business priority, it must have a UX professional on staff. Period. Even contracting for a usability vendor is difficult without a UX professional ...more »

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Campaign: Usability and Design

Do not strand the user

Every time an action can be taken, provide the link next to the information, not somewhere else on the page. If there is software required, provide the link to download the software. For instance I am on the patent office site and there is a missing plug-in. It shows the logo of the missing plug-in but not the name of the product or a link to get to it. Without even having the name I can't search for the plug-in. This ...more »

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Campaign: Usability and Design

Government websites are the same as mainstream websites (almost)

Regarding usability, government websites are mostly the same as mainstream websites, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. 3 reasons: a) Jakob's Law of the Internet User Experience states that "users spend most of their time on *other* sites than your site" and form their expectations for your site based on their cumulative experience on those many other sites. b) Most Web design guidelines are the same across ...more »

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13 votes
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Campaign: Usability and Design

Group like content, improve readability, scanability

Government websites are very outdated, and even the ones that have had redesigns recently still feel very clunky. Contrast is good, agreeing with Section 508. Most, if not all of the sites boast solid darks on lights which aid in readability, however, leading (space between lines of text) is very tight in many cases. Paragraph spacing should be consistent. Headings should be consistent. Links should be clear, and also ...more »

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12 votes
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Campaign: Content in other languages

Develop cross-disciplinary multilingual/cultural best practices

Creating a multilingual communication strategy is complex and requires knowledge from many different fields, including linguistics, sociolinguistics, anthropology, ethnographics, demography, technology, communications, marketing, PR, customer service, user experience, graphic design, social media, public policy, business strategy (yes even for government agencies), etc. The government should leverage knowledge from various ...more »

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Campaign: Accessibility

Universal Design for Learning

The principles and guidlelines of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) should be applied to Federal website design. UDL will ensure that the broadest range of uses will be able to access and gain knowledge from Federal websites. Universal Design for Learning takes the concept of Universal Design one step further. In addition to focusing on physical accessibility (e.g. text to speech, accessible word or pdf documents) it ...more »

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Campaign: Content and Readability

Easy to make repairs

In studying the usability of websites by under-educated individuals we have found that the site has to make it easy for a user to make repairs - correct themselves when they wind up somewhere they didn't want to be.

Repair skills of a user have to be matched with linguistic tools, visual and navigation aids that help in this process.

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Campaign: Usability and Design

Scenario focused dialogue

Web design is a complex task especially when your users range the scale from non-technical to web savvy, great design comes from understanding this customer base. Building persona‚Äôs that represent the 4-5 typical users of the site. Then building the information architecture which comprises of the information to be rendered and a meaningful way to categorize it. When you combine focus on the user, the data, and bring people ...more »

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