The New Virginia.gov?Politics

…kinda lame, guys.

From the Governor’s press release trumpeting the new site:

The site has an inviting new look backed by an efficient architecture focused on improving citizen usability. It provides citizens with easy-to-use Web access to Virginia government information and services. An all-new mobile version also has been launched. This website, also known as the state portal, directs visitors to the many online offerings of Virginia agencies faster and more efficiently.

The new website enhances Virginia’s image as one of the nation’s best states in which to operate a business and raise a family. It provides direct access to information that businesses looking to start up, locate or expand can use, enhancing economic development and job creation efforts.

Five rounds of formal citizen usability testing were conducted on the desktop and mobile versions. Citizen users participated in a series of real-world scenarios during each test. Their responses drove enhancements.

“We have measurably improved our service delivery through this new website by focusing on the user’s experience with government tasks,” Governor McDonnell said. “Use of this quantifiable process will help us continue to improve going forward.”

The new www.virginia.gov site loads more quickly, both on desktop and mobile versions. Task times to complete and success rates of task completion also are improved. The same tasks were tested on the previous version of the website and the new site in order to validate the comparison. A user survey is prominently displayed on the home page of the website; ongoing refinements and enhancements will continue based on further usability best practices.

That sounds like marketing gobbledygook for “this got turned into a platypus reaaaaal quick, folks — reason #352 why you don’t build websites by committee.”

I dunno about anyone else, but I’m not a fan.  The site looks way too blocky, and there’s not a whole lot of style behind it.  The old website design was far superior when it came to look, feel, and style… though everyone could have appreciated a slightly larger font.

No worries — in three months, we’ll have all forgotten the old.  Or maybe not… this is Virginia after all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andydschwartz Andrew Schwartz

    Thomas Jefferson would not approve.

  • http://bearingdrift.com/ J.R. Hoeft

    It’s not terrible. However, when I went to the General Assembly page, they have a graphic that says “Generalassembly.gov” as the banner, but the web address is virginiageneralassembly.gov. Sigh.

  • pinecone321

    The so-called VA Gov site takes no positions on anything, holds to no priciples as Republicans once used to do, and they simply skate and gloss over every issue that can possibly come to mind. How can any site not even talk about the Republican party, not even take the first stand on anything, and think they are everything to everything, while they have become nothing to no one? It is more than alittle sad to every voting person in VA. It displays no positions on anything either R or D. I understand the push for right vs. wrong, but nothing vs. nothing is a sure loser. Typical for VA R’s.

    • http://bearingdrift.com/ J.R. Hoeft

      Umm….no. This is a government site meant to be used by everyone to check in on government services provided and stay informed on the activity of government. If there was partisanship on this site, I’d be sorely disappointed. Now, RPV.org, that site should do as you recommend.

      • pinecone321

        So what you are saying J.R.Hoeft is that even though the Republicans hold the Gov, Lt Gov. and Atty Gen positions any website put out by the current Gov. should not promote Republican/conservative positions? I’m confused. If the Republicans win elections, and are in control of he state, they should not promote Republican/conservative positions? but should encompass all views of ever resident in the state? Is that what you are saying? I peomote once again that if there is a Republican/conservative leadership in the state, elected by the VA voters, they should be absolutely promoting the Republican/conservative positions. When a Democrat is in charge do they not promote the liberal positions even to the point of lying? Where am I not understanding your position? Should it be a lying fest to see who can tell the biggest whopper between the R’s and the D’s?

        • http://bearingdrift.com/ J.R. Hoeft

          I think I understand where you are coming from. When I use Virginia.gov or my local city site, cityofchesapeake.net, or go to, for example, house.gov, I clearly expect to see some of the policies being advanced by the current elected officials. However, these sites also have basic services or ideas that should not be partisan at all – such as how to register to vote, where to go to get a building permit, or how to apply for service academies. The sites need to be both informative and functional.

        • http://twitter.com/icanhasbailout Alexis Rose Bank

          The virginia.gov site is for government administration. Political advocacy doesn’t belong there, and it may be illegal to do as you suggest (I know it is illegal on the federal level to use government resources for partisan purposes). Like it or not the government exists for all the citizens of the state, not just those who agree with whomever is in office at any given point in time.

  • http://twitter.com/BrianSchoeneman Brian W. Schoeneman

    I like it.

    • http://bearingdrift.com/ J.R. Hoeft

      What a shocker.

      • http://twitter.com/BullElephant Steve Albertson

        LOL!

  • http://twitter.com/icanhasbailout Alexis Rose Bank

    From a technical point of view it’s an obvious disaster from the very first look. The browser title says “Home” like they pulled some template out of the box, the HTML version is a poor choice and it doesn’t even validate properly. XHTML 1.0 Transitional? Seriously? The CSS is also a total mess. “Ubuntu” font? Really? Who the hell made that decision (it will degrade for 99%+ of users).

    It is very very clear that even the most routine due diligence on the technology end was not done; 25 XHTML errors and 26 CSS errors on the home page alone, plus at least three HTTP 404 “file not found” errors.

    From a presentation point of view, it’s a perplexing decision to have the home page randomly load different content on each page load. Try reloading the page a few times. Why would anyone make that decision? You’d never see that in a business context, that’s for sure.

    It might look impressive relative to, say, rpv.org, but that’s like being more law-abiding than the Moran family.

    I give it a “D” pending further review, but my initial guess would be that this was outsourced to India.

    • http://bearingdrift.com/ J.R. Hoeft

      Outstanding!

      PS Feel free to email me a critique of BD’s technical issues. I’m well aware our mobile rendering needs, er, an upgrade.

      • http://twitter.com/icanhasbailout Alexis Rose Bank

        check your email

    • http://www.facebook.com/shaunkenney Shaun Kenney

      OK — so I was geek enough to check the CSS myself as well… and had the same “huh?” moment you did. and the holdover J-Fred era RPV.org desperately, DESPERATELY needs an overhaul.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaelj.barrett.355 Michael J Barrett

    That you Shaun for expressing exactly how I feel about just about every press release written for the Governor. It is as if he and his staff gloss over the real imact of initiatives in a successful attempt to simply score political points. The recent press conference on the budget touted countless new initiatives in erducation, public safety, transportation, and colleges and universities, yet not one word about cuts he will propose in these areas and other areas of the budget as well. He conjurers up a magical fairytale of progress and hope while he dashes each when the details are written in back rooms and conference tables. As he searches for his legacy, let me suggest that it has already been found; public relations guru.