Sunday, October 02, 2011

Great Ideas! What Do You Think?

The National Dialog on Government Websites has been a resounding success.  In fact, it’s gone so well that the .Gov Reform Task Force and GSA have extended the discussion to midnight Tuesday night, October 4. 

There’s still time for you to get in there to comment and vote on the ideas others have proposed and submit your own. 

So many great ideas!  How do you feel about these?
  • Create content around topics and customer groups – not organizations.  Start working across government to combine, consolidate, and trim content around themes.  Stop making customers hop from agency to agency, to gather all the information government has to offer.  Yes, there are barriers.  But isn’t this the right thing to do for our customers?
  • Require accessibility AND usability testing prior to launching a website (or a redesign or any significant content additions).  We’ve come a long way since 1995 – we have a body of research that tells us what makes a positive customer experience.  Should we be required to use that research to make our websites easier for customers to use before we post them?
  • Simplify online services.  Well, duh – yeah!  If you agree, vote.  If you don’t agree, tell us why. 
  • Differentiate between short-term and long-term content (my terms here).  Some content is timeless and needs to be easy to find.  Some content has a short shelf-life, but we keep piling it up (leaving it there), making it harder and harder to find those evergreen gems.  Should we set up archive websites, moving that important – but quickly obsolete – content off the active website so it’s easier for customers to use?  How can we deal with this problem?
  • Create a federal website content strategy.  Do we need to stop managing on an ad hoc basis and start developing and implementing a thoughtful, comprehensive strategy for our websites?
  • Standardize CMS and templates across government.  Oh boy – here’s a hot one!  Strong opinions on both sides (I say, “yes!”).  Many pros and cons, and lots of hurdles.  What's the right answer for our customers?
  • Establish a “customer bill of rights” as a set of core principles for customer service.  I’ve been talking about this for years.  But what do you think?
  • Customers should be able to find government information by location.  We addressed this 10 years ago at HUD – our customers told us they want to know how to buy a home or find rental housing where they live or want to live.  They want that local connection.  So we hired local web managers and built sections of the website for every state.  It was a huge hit.  Should we be doing this across government?  I think so.  How about you?
  • Less content – more services.  Should we be focusing more on creating/improving great online services and less on writing more “content?”
  • Require a content review process.  Should every agency have some sort of process to make sure content is current and accurate?
  • Should all federal government websites use USA.gov’s search engine?  Why reinvent the wheel?
  • Agencies should make sure they have processes to act on customer feedback, questions, and input.  Customers hate it when they lob in a comment or question and never hear or see government’s response.  It’s a huge part of “open government.”  What can/should we do to make sure we interact with customers?
I’m telling you…this discussion is a cornucopia of great ideas and even better discussion. 

409 ideas.  1,476 comments.  939 participants.  As of today.  Have you weighed in?  There’s still time.  This is important, folks.  Don’t keep your ideas and opinions to yourself – share them.  Let’s figure this out.  We serve best when we serve together. You’ve got until midnight Tuesday night.  Join the National Dialog on Government Websites!

1 comment:

Ralf Lippold said...

Many thanks - more than timely. Best from Dresden, where in memories of around the same time 22 years ago! This now sounds like putting lean thinking into practice for the citizens and with the citizens. Connecting and acting collaboratively will not just be possible due to new technology we did not have back than but rather provide the setting for large-scale social change we (almost all) seek to happen.