A modern capability (draft)


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.

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 March.


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.

RSS feed of comments 4 Responses to “Government websites should meet basic usability criteria”

  1. I suspect usability issues will likely stem from Government websites being resourced and funded inconsistently. POIT might consider recommending each site’s resources are audited too.

  2. I think a “name-and-shame” feature which would list every government website and allow users to rate them. Sure, such rating systems can be ‘rigged’ but it sure would provide an indication of which websites were user friendly and which weren’t.

  3. Phil McAllister says:

    The idea of a ‘name & shame’ system, while it may expedite raising the awareness of usability on government websites among an audience who would not usually take notice, will do nothing for the morale of teams working on those sites who may not be empowered to make the changes necessary.

    Perhaps offer up a small but dedicated ‘crack team’ of UK Gov usability professionals who will help any team that asks in identifying usability issues and assist them in finding solutions.

  4. Sebastian Crump says:

    Of course there are some (many?) government websites that are not meeting existing accessibility criteria (are you counting that within ‘usability’?).

    Lack of accessibility and consistency has made it more difficult for interim ’site scraping’ to be used.

    However, aren’t most(?) government websites slimming down, if not closing altogether. Combined with the cost auditing will there be less resources available to implement a new set of guidance?