A modern capability


Government websites should meet basic usability criteria

It is easier to extract benefit from information that is presented on the web in a usable way.

The Taskforce commissioned work on usability from the agency Bunnyfoot to identify good and bad aspects of government websites. The review found that some government websites are failing to get the basics right, for example:

  • Not helping people to navigate the site easily
  • Not helping search engines like Google to find the site
  • Not speaking the language of the user

In response, the Cabinet Office is working with Departments to resolve the specific issues identified in the review. Of the 150 separate issues identified, departments have firm plans in place to resolve 116 of them.

A good example of design focussed on usability can be found here.  The Cabinet Office has also asked COI to build a ‘usability toolkit’ for web developers and web content editors across government covering the basics of usability in a way that is engaging and interactive.  The aim is to raise awareness of usability issues across government and to improve the quality of government websites.  The toolkit will be delivered by end March 2009.

Recommendation 20

The Taskforce worked with the COI to produce ‘usability’ critieria and guidance for central government websites.  These criteria should be published with an implementation plan to central government websites.  The criteria and guidance should be published as soon as possible with an implementation plan by June 2009.  The approach should be extended to the websites of the wider public sector including local government, health and police.