Designing and developing websites is challenging. Most Web professionals, however, cater to one specific type of audience or group which influences how websites are built. Imagine how difficult it is to serve many different audiences, with very different needs in some instances, simultaneously. That's very much the case with government websites. So who's doing it right and who is doing it wrong?
Website Magazine reviewed five official city websites in the U.S. in order to gauge the general appeal and effectiveness of their digital properties. What we found during this process was the best of design, along with the worst. Take a look at these websites below and let us know what you think; how would you make them better for the citizens that use them?
Some general thoughts on the visual appeal and effectiveness of websites for the cities of Phoenix, Omaha, Boston, San Francisco and Dallas have been included below, but Website Magazine has also put together a website face-off for these and five other official city websites at InternetRating.com; rate those digital properties now on the first-impression they provide to you, an expert Web professional.
City of Phoenix Website
Phoenix does a nice job with its navigation, offering up links for very specific tasks (Report It, Map It, Pay It, etc.) and then offering another set of more generalized links for those living in, doing business in and visiting the city.
City of Omaha
Perhaps the worst website in this roundup, Omaha seems to be stuck in some weird digital time warp. The city, a lovely town really founded in 1854, looks as if it was designed the same year and by a committee of Microsoft Frontpage users.
City of Dallas Website
The official Dallas city website might have as much personality as two day-old toast, but it is indeed a lean and clean example of what government websites should be. Arguably somewhat of a snoozer at first glance, the website is well organized, detailed and functional, something that can’t be said of every city government site you’ll encounter.
City of Boston Website
The no-nonsense website for the great city of Boston is direct in its offerings and thoughtful and comprehensive in its construction. Some of the design choices specifically, however, including the use of small font sizes, low contrast between important sections, etc., could stand to be improved.
City of San Francisco
With high hopes for this tech city, the official website for San Francisco (city and county) is somewhat underwhelming but does fulfill all the necessary requirements. What the site does exceedingly well is focus on Accessibility, giving users the ability to navigation to a drop-down menu displaying options for adjusting the font size, viewing content as text only or listening to the content on the website.
Cast Your Vote
Head over to InternetRating.net to cast your vote based on your first impressions of official city websites.