Usability at a Glance: WhiteHouse.gov

The new WhiteHouse.gov

The new WhiteHouse.gov

President Barack Obama was sworn in to office at 12:04 p.m. this afternoon by my clock. His web staff has already been hard at work, however, launching a newly designed whitehouse.gov with posts published at 12:01 p.m.

It looks like it has the potential to be a great communications portal.

For this high-level review I am going to start with a list of what this site does right.

  • It is timely. This site was delivered right on time, at the exact moment the President was inaugurated.
  • It is well-organized. The home page touts a few feature articles, the latest blog posts and video, direct links to hot topics, and a search field. The top menu items are intuitive and expand in to drop-down menus with easy to scan sub-topics. Just in case the user has trouble with drop-downs, the menus are repeated in long format at the bottom of every page.
  • The article pages have well-positioned links to other topics in the same category.
  • Placeholders. While perusing the site, you get a peak at things to come. The structure is there with oddly informative text. For example, the Executive Orders page currently says, “The President has not yet issued any Executive Orders.” At least you know where to look for this information next time. The structure is already in place. (Note: This doesn’t work for all sites. Beware “under construction” notices unless you know your visitor will care and needs to be trained.)

What I wish it did better:

  • Make links obvious. Links on the article page menus and along the bottom of the site in black (not-underlined) text just like all of the regular reading text. It makes it hard to see at a glance where you can click. Conversely, the section landing pages (such as the Briefing Room) display links in navy blue. The contrast between the black text and the navy blue links could be a bit more prominent, but it is still a step up from the black text and links on other pages.
  • Offer more navigation options on the blog pages. As it stands, once you are on a blog article page, the only way back to the blog list is via your back button or the house ad style block in the right sidebar. I would like to see Previous and Next buttons at the top and bottom of the post, as well as links to recent posts and related posts.

All in all, I think this site is getting the right information out there at the right time and, at the end of the day, people want to find the information they need quickly and easily. On WhiteHouse.gov, I think they will get just that.

Now for a few screenshots:

The feature tout on the home page

The feature tout on the home page

The Briefing Room drop down menu

The Briefing Room drop down menu

The footer links mimic the drop down menu options

The footer links mimic the drop down menu options

An article page from the Agenda section

An article page from the Agenda section

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: