Why Government Websites Suck so Much, according to Obama’s White House Webmaster [April 14, 2017]
By Tom Cochran
Chief Digital Strategist, Acquia
Our interactions with government websites are often memorable for all the wrong reasons. Whether you’re trying to change your official address or applying for a local permit, you’re likely to see conflicting information, have to pinch-and-zoom a non-responsive design, or need a law degree to understand the five-paragraph disclaimer below a simple log-in form.
In a world where industry giants like Facebook run hundreds of user experience tests daily, why are our government websites so far behind the curve? I witnessed this problem first hand at the US Department of State and while running the White Houses’s digital technology initiatives under Obama. And I discovered that while change does not exactly happen overnight in these large bureaucracies, it is possible. And we, as frustrated citizens, should be demanding it.
The Trump administration is focused on upgrading a crumbling public infrastructure, proposing to invest $1 trillion over 10 years. Though not crumbling, our government’s digital infrastructure is weak and inferior. The systems through which we receive government services should be deemed as critical as our roads and bridges.
We must remember that our government is here to serve the people. Military jets should not fall out of the sky, filing taxes should not fail, and you should get your social-security benefits on time. Using internet services quickly and easily should be no different. Government websites exist to provide citizens with essential services and information, yet more often than not, it is difficult to find voter registration information or the form to pay your parking ticket.