Gov 2.0 Roundup July 2 Edition

I’m posting this a day early, in advance of the July 4th holiday weekend…

The White House lifts the ban on cookies, the nation’s smallest state makes a big impact on its website thanks to a five-second quiz, USA.gov compiles a list of government apps, and Gov 2.0 experts give tips on avoiding social media mistakes, all in this week’s version of the Gov 2.0 Roundup.

–For a decade, federal agencies have been barred from using cookies to help personalize visitor experiences on their websites. But thanks to a new policy from the White House, the ban on cookies has been lifted. While the policy (PDF) now allows federal agencies to use cookies, it still sets explicit guidelines that limit the amount of personally identifiable information that can be collected, as well as sharing their own data with another agency without the visitor’s consent. It will be interesting to see how federal agencies websites will take advantage of the new rules.

–There is no shortage of ways to collect user feedback on website design. You can host focus groups, conduct a survey, or even perform eye-tracking tests. Or, you can follow the lead of the state of Rhode Island and administer a memory test to website visitors, quizzing them on what elements of the website homepage they remember after viewing it for 5 seconds. Results of the the test, implemented on the RI.gov website last September, were used to help guide the site redevelopment process. The new site, which was launched in May, prominently features the government’s online services, something that the memory test showed had been largely ignored in the previous design.

–Want to know if the Milwaukee neighborhood you’re getting ready to walk through is safe? Need the schedule for San Francisco’s BART train, want to test the speed of your mobile data connection, or need to figure out your Body Mass Index? There’s an app for that…or to be more specific, there are 111 apps for that. Earlier this week, USA.gov published a ‘Comprehensive List of Government Apps’ Microsoft Excel list that gives detailed information on federal, state, and local agency mobile applications, including links where the apps can be downloaded.

–Gov 2.0 luminaries Steve Ressler and Mark Drapeau are among the experts quoted in a recent Washington Post article chronicling the top ten mistakes that business, organizations and government agencies make when it comes to social media. Ressler suggests that agencies start with a small social media presence and use it well before expanding your scope, while Drapeau urged agencies to think in terms of engaging citizens on issues rather than asking them to ‘fan’ the agency itself. Be sure to check out the article to learn about the other mistakes, including one about the dangers of delegating social media responsibilities to the intern.

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