Many dot-govs fail on content, not technology

Government sites contain too much jargon and unclear navigation.

The folks over at GSA’s First Fridays Usability Testing Program have put together a list of the most common government website fails they encountered in 2012.

Tellingly, the most common usability problems are less about technology and more about communication -- jargony content, poor navigation labels and confusing contact information.

First Fridays is a twice monthly General Services Administration initiative that tests how quickly novice recruits can perform tasks on government websites.

Many of the websites that came in for voluntary testing in 2012 weren’t telling visitors the main purpose of their websites up front and were scattering the most commonly requested tasks throughout the homepage rather than organizing them at the top, the First Fridays team said.

The team also posted a collection of before and after shots of improved government sites., for example, reduced the number of acronyms on its homepage after testing and developed clearer paths for visitors seeking information about specific topics such as retirement planning or Hurricane Sandy relief.