Add your ideas to the National Dialogue for Improving Federal Websites

Our first week of the National Dialogue http://web-reform-dialogue.ideascale.com/ has been a great success. The caliber of discussion has been high and we want to keep up the momentum for week 2. Many, many thanks for your contributions, tweets, blogs, votes and comments. As of this morning we’ve had 261 ideas posted, 868 comments, 4,260 votes from 645 registered users. And… we still have another week to add your ideas on improving .gov sites!

Below is a list of this weeks one-hour “dialog-a-thons”. These are designed to complement the ongoing discussion, with a targeted discussion where we can have a critical mass of people engaging during the same timeframe. It’s OK if you can’t make a particular time since you can chime in at any time during the 2 weeks, until Sept. 30.

Monday, September 26, 2011 at 1:00 ET – Content in other Languages and LEP

Monday, September 26, 2011 at 4:00 ET – Services and Transactions

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 1:00 ET – Practices, Policies and Priniciples

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 12:00 ET – Universal Access

Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 1:00 ET – Data, Apps, APIs

Thursday, Septebmer 29, 2011 at 3:00 ET – IT and Infrastructure

Friday, September 30th at 1:00 ET – Privacy and Security


We would really appreciate your help in getting the word out. It would be great if you would:



1) post a notice on your websites encouraging the public to participate
2) send notice to your email subscribers (ie GovDelivery)
3) post on your agency Facebook pages
4) tweet like mad 🙂

Leave a Comment

13 Comments

Leave a Reply

Profile Photo Carol Davison

Lisa thank you for requesting and providing feedback. As a person with visual and carpel tunnel disabilities I suggest putting a few people like me on your team. 1. Include point of contact name, phone and email on websites. How can you serve your customers without listing these? 2. Don’t put meaningless items on web pages like the Department of Energy’s electric car homepage. I already have difficult seeing and pain with handuse, why would DOE make me unnecessarily click down and refocus on a new pages because they’ve included information that is meaningless to most Americans? 3. Develop websites that serve the customer. USAJOBS could be improved by including exact work addresses so individuals unable or unwilling to get to that site could self select out of applying. This would save customer-applicant and HR work, which best serves customers best. Another example is the Intelligence Agency applications which require one entry each for training title, start date, end date, provider, and type of training. When I asked to be accomodoted they told me to list my training and awards in a KSA box. (These no longer exist.) If the information isn’t necessary to be entered individually, why require it? How many qualified people didn’t apply because they were deterred by a poorly staffed application? 4. Staff items through individuals with disabilities so they are designed to not unaccomodate us. For example one organization develop a “brand” and distributed power points, letterheads, etc to all staff. Another made everyone print on both sides of paper. No one thought to consider whether these policies unaccomodated staff with disabilities. Additionally none of the requirements like Times New Roman 12 font were built into the power point, making unnecessary work for all 2,000 employees and inappropriate work for the disabled. Please contact me with any related questions. Thank you for your consideration.

Reply
Profile Photo Lisa Nelson

Hi Carol. Thanks for your comments. It would be great if you could post your ideas on the National Dialogue site http://bit.ly/ny82bH so that others could see it and perhaps spur further discussion. There is a category for accessibility and we will be having a dialogue-a-thon today at 12:00 noonET with Sharron Rush, Knowbility and Jared Smith WebAIM.org. If you have time it would be great for you to join in.

Reply
Profile Photo Andrea Schneider

Hi Lisa,

I was told a Citizens Dashboard had been funded, designed and created for federal websites and has not been funded for implementation, despite good reviews. My understanding is it had been designed to aggregate and simplify web access, understanding and get people where they really needed to go.

Do you have any information about this project?

Thanks.

Reply
Profile Photo Andrea Schneider

Thanks Carol.

I hope you get good feedback and are able to implement the best ideas. I have to say I sometimes find it difficult to focus on websites in these challenging economic times. I am very supportive of making sure citizens are able to participate in an interactive way, find the information they need in a simple and clear way and can see that their resources are well spent.

I have registered for the site so I can add an idea or two and contribute to those already posted. I’m glad you are taking a look at the whole endeavor.

Reply
Profile Photo Michael McGee

This is a very good question. As I’m not part of the US federal government (rather, a provincial government in Canada) I’ll leave a comment here. It’s no secret that websites are an important communications tool that have the potential to transform relations between government and citizens – and government business processes too. More of that potential can be realized when responsibility for updating website content shifts from the communications shop to the programs areas and departments that know the content. For such a shift to be successful, there needs to be more capacity building so people in the program areas have the skills and comfort to make those updates. People also need the tools to make it easy to do the updates (eg, Adobe Contribute or permission-managed content management systems comparable with Joomla 1.7 – I’m sure there are other platforms), and back up support, and understandable standards.

Reply
Profile Photo Patricia A. O'Malley

The entire usa.gov site system is a wonderful, limitless source of information.

Unfortunately, few people know about it because they don’t utilize SEO.

Federal websites rarely show up in search results.

And that’s a completely absurd waste of an excellent resource.

Reply
Profile Photo Lisa Nelson

Michael, I think that is a really good point. The shift will be major and every employee will need to be responsible for providing customer service. To do this employees will need to be where the customers are, in social media. I agree that capacity building is crucial.

Reply
Profile Photo Andrea Schneider

Thank you Lisa for checking on the Citizen Dashboard. After making such an investment in development it seems too bad that it was cut when it was ready to go.

Were you able to find out how it would have worked with the federal website system?

I have to say I worry about redundant funding, not capitalizing on work paid for, especially if it would be helpful.

I think Patricia’s comments are well taken, does the average citizen know what is being done (my interpretation), understand how to effectively use these new tools and whether it carries weight in very challenging economic times and difficult choices.

The more concrete we can be, with the public, and meaningful the investment is to everyday lives, seems important, when we want to demonstrate good use of limited dollars. My thought is the taxpayer has to see concrete results in ways that enhance their lives.

I really appreciate how quickly you found out about what happened. Like to know more about it if possible.

Reply
Profile Photo Sarah Roper

Thanks, Patricia, for your kind words about USA.gov. We are constantly working to make USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov the most useful, intuitive, and friendly source of government information from across government.

We work side by side with the Search.USA.gov team and our own SEO experts to hone our pages for optimum search results placement, and as you probably know, that’s an ongoing task. In the next few months we plan to experiment further with search advertising and incorporating more actionable metrics, as recommended in Google’s “Beyond Page Rank” (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/06/beyond-pagerank-graduating-to.html).

Please feel free to contact me any time if you have suggestions or comments for USA.gov. We really value your insight and would be thrilled to talk any time.

Reply