Ask GovLoop – A Bit About Design


Welcome to the first installment of Ask GovLoop. My name is Adam Harvey. I’m a web designer in Cleveland, OH. I’m going to talk about design, if you’ve got a minute.

When I think about design in a broad sense, I think about how well something works and how intuitive it is to use. Aesthetics comes in second to usability. Yet for me, the opposite holds true with websites. The first thing I pay attention to is how pretty the site is, and I think about its usability only after that first impression.

Yet web design isn’t just about how pretty a site looks; the effectiveness of its layout and usefulness of its content are equally important. All three of these pieces are necessary for a top-notch website.

So when you visit a site, or look at your own, ask yourself:

  1. Is the site aesthetically pleasing?
  2. Is the layout intuitive?
  3. Is the content useful?

and you’ll get a better idea of what separates good design from bad. Thanks for listening!

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It’s interesting as some sights like craigslist or drudgereport have wildly different styles and may not hit #1 but definitely are intuitive and with good content. I think about design issues as well with GovLoop about how it appears to people, is it intuitive, and does it have useful content. Any suggestions would be appreciated…

Barbara Blaskowsky

I have a question about page length (height?). Is the general consensus that lots of shorter pages are better (the “before the fold” mentality) or is a long page that requires a lot of scrolling ok?

And did you design the GovLoop site?

Adam Harvey

Hi Barbara,

Great question. I could give you a quick answer, but I’d rather gather some good links and put it all together in another video for you. Can you give me a couple of days?

No, I didn’t design the GovLoop site. Steve could probably direct you to whomever is responsible for it.

Barbara Blaskowsky

Thanks for the effort – appreciate it. And I would have given you props if you did design this site 🙂


I did the first couple iterations of GovLoop building off the Ning platform and my minimal design skills.

Rock Creek Strategic Marketing – – has been helping me with the design of the site taking it to the next level and has done awesome work on the redesigned banner, lightening the look and feel of the site, developing buttons, and some general UI issues. Cool peeps.

Dr. Trish

The guideline I go by for length is: If it’s a home page or a navigation page, definitely go with only one screenful so information is quickly visible without having to scrolling down. However, for a page rich in content, such as a journal article, then scrolling down is fine, because it facilitates uninterrupted reading. Try not to break the page at a point where it appears there is no more content below the break, when actually there is. Rationale: Some people forget to, or don’t know to, look at the scroll bar that indicates how much information is hidden below the fold. I paraphrased this information from a great book that I used all the time for usability evaluations: Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines by Sanjay Koyani, Robert Bailey, and Janice Nall.

Chris Niels Sieler

I am brand new why are my links not showing up. I hit the link tab allow scripts, the HTMl is embedded and then nothing.

Adam Harvey

Hi Chris,

I’m not sure what you’re issue is. Are you experiencing an issue with addling hyperlinks to GovLoop?

Chris Niels Sieler

Yes I click on the link in the Comment editor, I then have to allow scripts on the page, I allow scripts, click on link again, and then paste in my link. It appears in Html glory, then does not appear in the comment. I am sorry for such a stupid question.

Adam Harvey

That’s not a stupid question at all. And it sounds as though you’re not doing anything wrong. What it sounds like is that your browser doesn’t like the javascript used by the link button to insert the link. Even when you tell it to go ahead and use scripts, it ignores your request. You could try digging through your browser options to make sure that javascript is fully enabled, or you could just paste the URL into your text comment and let the site do the work for you: thus:

PS – I had a great uncle who lived in Fort Huachuca, and I got a chance to visit him out there many years ago. It was one of my favorite vacations.

Chris Niels Sieler

Thanks What you just told me is that it will all be okay tonight when I go home. I will dig around at work , I have IE and Firefox but they are starting actually restrct admin rights which is actually a good idea on a Gvt network.

Chris Niels Sieler

I am new to this application but I am a “Cough” Microsoft Developer ( Hey it pays the bills) I do open source Html and XML but sometimes we are the worst people to jump in a new app because we ” don’t read or ask for directions” . So I will take a deep breath and let you know what I have found out. Thanks for your help. MOSS bear

Mirza J Isphani

I like craiglist too, not everyone would like its navigation style. I would like to have a similar website
for research purposes based on categories/types of subject matter. There is already a website called
researchgate. Navigation or Aesthetic appeal may differ from person to person how they choose to

When I do research i found so much rich information, where we would not have time to digest them
all but I would prefer a tool which would categorize the subject as I browse. This tool could be
reused to search back what you had browsed in the history of your past research path.

I dont have to design, but this feedback would help other search engines to provide this tool
for researchers like us.