Government websites ‘too complex’ says the NAO
The BBC reports on a new National Audit Office review of government websites commenting;
‘many government websites are still too complicated and difficult to use’.
Haven’t seen the report itself yet, its not available on the NAO website at the time of writing. But it will be interesting to see them expanding on the following reported points:
- Nearly 25% of departments do not know who is using their sites, or how much they cost.
- Most people only knew a few key sites and tended to use “transactional services” once or twice a year.
- Some sites are difficult to use, too “text-heavy” and filled with policy material that irrelevant to the visitor.
- The average central government site has 17,000 pages yet most of their search engines “often fail to work satisfactorily”.
- The Directgov and Business Link “super-sites” were popular with the NAO’s focus groups, who found they were “laid out clearly”. However few knew about them beforehand, and some felt the name Directgov was difficult to remember.
- Up to a third of government websites may not meet standards for disabled or visually impaired people while, of the 3,400 forms available to download, only one in eight could be filled in and returned online.
- Government websites have “improved slightly” between 2001 and 2006 in terms of quality, and about a tenth of all government sites had made “major improvements,” but one in six sites had got “significantly worse”.
That sounds like a damning indictment. I’m surprised by the findings, and would be surprised if its as bad as painted – though of course its better not to draw conclusions until you’ve actually read the report.