Posts Tagged ‘Washington D.C. municipal website’

Our nation’s capital website

February 8, 2009

District of Columbia:

Transparency: Its possible to view video of DC council meetings but it requires navigating through three websites to do so.  Also, agendas and meetings are available at a different website.  “B”

Feedback:  The DC website allows a visitor to register and then access a page called “Service Request Center” which lists about thirty different issues to report.  It includes everything from reporting on graffiti, illegal dumping, dead animals, traffic lights and much more.  The “Service Request Center” homepage has a breadcrumb trail at the top of the page letting you know all the steps you have to take to make a report.  This is the best page like this I’ve seen.  “A”

Richness of Information: This is a problem area.  For example, I wanted to find about building permits for D.C. and I was unable to navigate to the planning department or the equivalent to find this information.  I had to enter “permit” in the search box.  Fortunately, they have excellent search results and I was able to find a discussion of permits but it was located in the “Consumer and Regulatory Affairs” department.   This page is pretty complete and allows the user to download and complete the form online.  Unfortunately, you have to bring the form in person to the department.  Also, its not clear from the “permits” page how the permits fit within the larger context; what department deals with which permits?  What else might someone need besides a permit?  That is unclear.  “C+”

Transacting business:  Finding out how to do business in D.C. is pretty easy.  There is a  link from the home page label “Business” that directs you to a page which lays out all that’s need to apply for a license including an EZ business permit form that can be filled out online.  Unfortunately, the form can’t be submitted electronically.  It has to be brought in person or by mail.  They also have FAQ that explains that they are hoping to have an online process launched sometime in 2009. “B”

Overall: This is a website that has lots of problems but which seems very eager to please and often does.  The problems are mostly navigational; multiple sites, unclear pathways to information and lack of context.  However, the site has a good search function, lots of contents – forms and FAQs to help visitors.  Its “Service Request Center” is a terrific idea well-executed.  Maybe the site is a bit ugly but it’s got a really friendly personality!  “B+”