In Design Secrets of the World’s Best e-Government Web Sites, the Asia-Pacific online communications powerhouse FutureGov singles out eight national e-government portals as the best-designed in the world, and identifies the best practices these sites exemplify.
“Ultimately, these websites are the best in the world because they are designed to be practical, simple, quick and adaptable,” writes Joshua Chambers, editor of FirstGov Digital.
“One core principle stands out above all others: a well-designed government website must make it as easy as possible for citizens to find the information and services that they need.”
Here are the websites that do this best, according to FutureGov:
- Australia’s use of comprehensive user research and testing has led it to make significant improvements to the Australia.gov.au portal that helped the country’s e-government programs score second highest in the United Nation’s 2014 e-government rankings.
- Hong Kong’s Gov.HK is called vibrant, exciting, and “not at all like a staid government website.” It is notable for its accessibility—in 10 languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Bahasa Indonesian, Nepalese, Tagalog, Pakistani, Thai and Vietnamese.
- New Zealand’s newly redesigned Govt.nz “doesn’t look much like a government website at all,” according to FutureGov. “It’s very simple with a large font and no official insignia.” Extensive user testing and feedback guided the designers’ decisions.
- Singapore’s ecitizen.gov.sg resembles a simple search engine, but category tabs were added when testing revealed that many users preferred simple tabs to help them find information. Its prominent feedback option also encourages citizen engagement.
- Norway.no, is a sleek and simple gateway to online services, with a list of basic topics on the left, an invitation to sign up for SMS text messages, and a prominent search box that lets the user narrow down services by municipality.
- South Korea, perennial leader in the UN’s e-government rankings, offers korea.go.kr, which stands out in its use of icons and cartoons that reflect the national culture in its visual and design language, while meeting the highest usability standards.
- USA.gov, is “a great service for citizens,” syncing up with social networks, offering email alerts, YouTube videos and a comprehensive agency directory, while continuously adapting its streamlined presentation and responsive design based on user analytics.
The winning design features of these websites led FutureGov to suggest these “building blocks for e-government success:”
- Large, prominent search bars, a crucial part of any user’s interaction with government websites.
- A notable trend toward simplicity, limiting the number of links on the home page to only the most popular topics.
- Grouping content by themes according to user interest, not just organizational structure.
- Using icons, not images, to make it easier for users to find information.
- Responsive design to make websites accessible on mobile devices.
- Making content available in multiple languages.
“Good designs exist to serve their users, and this guide has chosen websites that embody that principle,” Chambers concludes.
“It has looked across the world for the best designed government portals, analyzing their designs, highlighting innovative features and explaining the techniques used to develop them. It should prove an essential primer for anyone considering the design of a government Web portal.”