SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: SIGIA-L: Large Government Sites
Re: SIGIA-L: Large Government Sites
From: Lloyd Davis (l-davis_at_audit-commission.gov.uk)
Date: Wed Mar 20 2002 - 13:11:47 EST
Mark, we (the Audit Commission for England & Wales) are in the middle of a two-stage web review - if you look at www.audit-commission.gov.uk you'll see the first "quick fix" site which had the sort of minimal re-architecting that it sounds like you're facing - in itself it felt like quite a leap forward, but that was only a holding position that helped get people at the information they said they wanted without going the whole architecture hog. We'll be re-launching in April a site which organises our content around a subject classification, geographic location and the sectors of government we regulate (Local Government, Health Service, Police & Crime), rather than by the myriad ways in which we have evolved to regulate those bodies (audit, inspection, research).
All the people who can talk to you sensibly about this are currently on a coke/pizza/chocolate treadmill to get this site launched and also to deliver a similarly restructured corporate intranet. But a quick straw poll around the office suggests that you're on the right track, but ultimately the client needs to bite the bullet on sorting its architecture out (for internal information management and sharing with other government agencies too!). Only one brave soul said "Get out now, you fool - run, run for your life"!
I expect you've already been to
which has the UK government's guidelines on government interoperability and good design for government sites. While you're there take a look at
which is the pom view of what you chaps down under are up to.
Happy to give boring advice/chew the fat off-list if you like (subject to project timetable - preferably after Easter - and blood sugar levels...)
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>>> "Mark Reuten" <markreuten_at_iprimus.com.au> 20 March 2002 11:30:13 >>>
I'm currently working on the redesign of a large government site (can't reveal their name) which is slowly becoming a bit of an eye opener.
Unlike "normal" (news, corporate, e-commerce or entertainment) sites, government organizations have an obligation to publish lots of information online (reports, legislation, rules, guidelines etc), however small the user base or large the amount of information may be. Much of this published information needs to stay online for several years no matter how often it is accessed. Most government sites I come across seem to struggle balancing their publishing obligations and users needs.
To give you some context, the site that I am working on has a left hand navigation containing 12 top-level categories of which some have over 10 second-level categories. Some of the second-level categories contain another 2 or more levels of information. The site contains about 1500 pages that contain links to about the same amount of PDF files... After having studied the site stats I would say that perhaps 60-70% of available content is hardly ever accessed. An interesting aspect is that 90% of the sites' users (general public) only need 30% of the available content.
The challenge we are facing is that we do not have the time to re-architect or repurpose the content contained in the current main taxonomy/navigation, instead we have been asked to look for other ways to improve the information architecture and usability of the site. To make it a bit more interesting, the current IA reflects the organizational silos and contains a lot of information that is hardly ever accessed by anyone.
Here are some of the things we are currently considering:
- A high-level/quick fix removal of dead wood
- Renaming/reshuffling of some important categories and content to better suit the users' mental model
- A homepage design that gives access to most important, most accessed/sought for information on the site. (I need to.., quick links, highlighting top content from each category etc)
- The creation of top-level category homepages (currently not utilized) to give users quick and easy access to those bits of content that most people would be after (the 20% of the categories' content that 80% of the users are looking for).
- The creation of secondary user/task based navigation(s) with pages that group links to content contained in the main navigation. An example would be a section/page for each of the site's main user groups.
- Implementation of a breadcrumb trail.
- Related content links on popular/important pages.
I guess my real concern is that whatever we do, the real content lives in this organizational (silo based) taxonomy and that as soon as the user clicks on any of the links offered on the category and user/task based pages, they will find themselves perhaps 5 levels down in the dark depths of content...
What I would like to know is:
- Are there people out there that have faced simular challenges?
- How did you solve them?
- Does anyone know of well architected large government sites that have dealt elegantly with simular challenges?
I will let you get back to work now; this email has gotten a bit out of hand!
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PS: for those who are interested here are some of the (Australian) government guidelines in regards to online information publishing:
The Online Information Service Obligations include:
directories of services and organisation, including contact details;
information needed by the public and organisations to facilitate their understanding of entitlements to government assistance and the requirements of government which affect them;
legislative information, including bills, acts, treaties, subordinate information, legislative status information, parliamentary timetables and Hansard records;
press releases, speeches and other public information released by ministers, their officers and holders of statutory offices;
annual reports, corporate strategic plans and other public accountability-type documents;
reports required to be submitted to Parliament; and
information about agency powers affecting the public, and manuals and other documents used in decision-making affecting the public.
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:55:05 EST