15 best e-government websites in the US: from interactive prototypes to great UX

User-centric design is boosting democracy and citizen participation, with a little help from web wireframing and prototyping

It’s official. E-Government is the only way to govern in the digital era. According to the UN’s 2016 E-Government Survey, 90 countries worldwide now offer a one-stop portal for public information and services, and almost 150 countries make use of online transactional services. The rise in digital governance has positive impacts on transparency, accountability and citizen action.

So what is e-government?

E-government is simply the use of digital technology to improve the processes of government. In fact, governments were among the early adopters of the power of the web — the Whitehouse went online all the way back in 1994. Thanks to improvements in connectivity and technology, even local government bodies are starting to think about how best to reach users through multiple devices and across social media apps.

Why do we need e-government?

As the UN survey points out, an online presence pays dividends when it comes to transparency. In an age where fake news and public mistrust of institutions is much-talked of, e-government provides an easy way for people to find out what public institutions are up to.

Greater transparency leads to greater accountability. 128 countries now provide datasets on government spending in machine readable formats, says the UN.

Finally, e-government opens up a world of possibility around participatory decision making. From voting online to influencing the allocation of public funds, e-government users can directly impact their local or national decision-making processes.

Sounds great! Why aren’t we all doing it?

Well, government is complex. Condensing national strategy into a usable app or website is even more complex. Government websites have historically failed to offer good user experiences (just check out the Whitehouse example again!) and it’s not hard to understand why:

  • Security concerns are at their highest on government sites. This poses challenges for usability.
  • Ditto personal data, which is required in many government transactions but is heavily protected by law
  • Governments in the US have usually bought entire technical and feature requirements of a service in one fell swoop, without testing them out on users iteratively, says the New York Times.
  • Politics can get in the way of equitable government
  • Government websites and apps have to work for everyone

The bad UX of many government websites is a bummer, because usable government applications are fundamental to increasing public access and participation.

Read the rest of the post on Justinmind’s blog