Autonomous government agencies often have their own Web design, which can confuse users. I think “does confuse users” would be more accurate. I trailed this same thought in my Computing piece a few weeks ago.
Darrell West has published what I think is his 3rd report on global e-government status, and the full report is here. The most startling conclusion is that, STILL, few websites offer transactional services. More than last year, but still not many … “12 percent of government websites offered services that are fully executable online, up from 8 percent in 2001”. That might mean that 88% of sites are not much use or that they haven’t got round to transactions yet. We can sort that out by killing off the redundant sites of course and by making the sites that remain fully integrated with transactions.
What would be an interesting number is how many sites each country has, perhaps measured per head of population or per million heads (or maybe per million people online) – I would imagine that the number would be lower for those countries both at the top and the bottom of the table (the top countries would have figured out that too many sites was bad and the lower countries are unlikely to be able to invest as much – or, if they haven’t figured it out yet, they’re going to have to soon). Plotting that on a matrix and showing the trend from last year would tell me if I’m right that countries start the e-government process with one site per department, quickly move to dozens (or even hundreds) and then go back the other way when they figure out how to consolidate to bigger, more capable portals. That leads, ultimately, to a single highly interactive, deeply personalised portal that can view across every government system. And that probably tells me that it’s a step or three beyond the web browser. We’re talking something pretty clever to get to that and if we have to figure out how to render pages that it shows in different standards and on different screens and whatnot then it will be too hard to do. So, what’s the next UI?