June 14, 2010 By Karen Wilkinson
Three states recently revamped their main Web portals, integrating user feedback in their blueprints to create more intuitive, navigable interfaces.
Alabama, Rhode Island and Tennessee all used the services of NIC, an e-government provider, in redesigning their websites. While all have their differences, the commonality among the sites is "the focus on making government information and services as easy as possible to find on a government website," NIC Vice President of Marketing Chris Neff wrote in an e-mail. "What's interesting is that there is no cookie-cutter solution to make this happen -- every one of these new websites is unique and is based on state-specific market research, user insights, design preferences and technology preferences."
Tennessee, which relaunched its site in mid-May, now has a dominant, "fat footer" that sits just above the fold, meaning it's viewable from the top half of the page without scrolling down. "It's the first state to have taken that aggressive of an approach in presenting the site map on the home page and to allow users to find information quickly," Ness said.
Another change Tennessee made, like many other states, is its reorganization of information and services based on user type, like resident, business and tourist, Ness said. And like other government agencies, the state has aggregated its social media links into one area on the home page.
Other highlights of Tennessee's relaunched site, Ness wrote in an e-mail, include:
Alabama's relaunched Web portal features a sleek new design that includes Flash imagery of state landmarks and a carousel of quick links to popular and frequently requested content areas, Ness wrote. It's also smartphone friendly and features an iPhone app that provides access to the portal's 135-plus online services. Other improvements include:
In Rhode Island, the state did extensive research user interaction with its portal, and made changes based on those results. This research included an online test in which users viewed the home page for five seconds and listed what they remembered, which showed that few people remembered seeing the online services list, which is now prominently displayed in two places above the fold, Ness wrote.
It also used award-winning testing software to record user testing sessions -- including browser activity, mouse movements and clicks -- and captured user's facial expressions and eye
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