Government Websites of the World
February 4, 2014
For many people their national government site is an important resource. A hub of information from news, to rights to important contacts. Government sites should generally be well designed within strict guidelines for accessibility and making it easy for the user to find the information they need. So I’m going to take a look at a few government sites, there’s quite a few hundred around, and see how they match up with each other.
The UK government site went through an overhaul not too long ago changing from the older DirectGov site to the newer www.gov.uk site. Gone is the bright orange stylings and in comes new flat design black and blue designed by the Government Digital Service. The new site puts most of the important content right above the fold with a big search box big and bold at the top. The gov.uk site is mostly function over form, but that still doesn’t stop it having an elegant style of it’s own. With no images the site improves its accessibility, and makes it easier to maintain a consistent structure of just purely useful information throughout the site. The site is also designed to fit mobile very well, with a very responsive website design.
For a mighty nation that’s hub of some of the most advanced technology companies on the globe the USA government website carries quite dated stylings of a mid-2000’s site. However it does feature modern features that show it has been updated more recently than then, with social links at the top and links to a “Featured App” in the centre. The general structure of the site is less that of a major information and advice hub, though this likely comes with the structure of US government and many things being handled on a state level. The “Espanol” option up top is certainly an interesting aspect to note, with the large segment of Spanish speakers in the USA the availability of translated material and websites is likely a key priority.
Barack Obama was helped into office with the help of a considerably active digital campaign during his initial election, and now he’s in office the current Whitehouse page bears the fruits of his digital team. The whitehouse website is both stylish and functional; a large image of the recent State of the Union address takes up most of the page, a navigation menu that blends in well with the decor of a high state of office. Though unlike the main usa.gov site the Whitehouse website is an arm of the Democrat party and therefore is built to engage voters current and future on policies and reform making it’s use to average citizen a bit diminished should they be looking for information on business law or similar.
Europa.eu is the home of the European Union on the web. With the site being built to service a wide range of nations and languages it is most definitely built with accessibility in mind over any design features. The header contains a range of options for text colours, size and language options. but when it comes to information and services you are well covered, with a range of sub-categories offered as the main focal point of the page in a well organised structure. The education links at the bottom are certainly a nice touch, keeping children informed and engaged with politics is no simple task and it’s nice to see EU giving this a front page focus. And like most of the government sites so far they’re also on a variety of social media sites.
The Canadian government website is quite the traditional website. Drop down navigation bar, image slideshow of key topics, and then a chunk of shortcuts to top services. If it wasn’t for the URL and maple leaf flag up top you might be mistaken for confusing it with any other website on the net. As mentioned previously accessibility is a key factor and similar to the USA site’s “Espanol” there’s a “Francais” option up top since many Canadian citizens are French speakers with a large amount of legislation requiring dual-languages on many government services. However the frequent use of images, many without alt attributes, does decrease the ease of use by people using screen readers.
There’s quite a broad range of strategy behind government sites around the globe. While all are built with information for citizens in mind, some go for a plain minimalist styling, others with navigation that’s long past it’s sell by date, and some with a more traditional styled site. All likely come with their ups and down, but they’re all certainly a great source of inspiration when building information focused websites with very niche aims and wide audiences.
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