Author Avatar Web Disasters X – Audience

by Webnme2 on Mar 20th 2010

SERVE THE AUDIENCE

Now this simple concept ought to be common sense for any organization that runs a website, but it seems to be the most difficult in practice. Websites tend to be slaves to organizational interests instead of serving their customers. State government websites can sometimes be the worst offenders. Recently I explored a number of DMV websites for various states to see whether it was easy to find out how to get a vanity license plate. What an eye opener. Try this sometime. You’ll be amazed at how many states do not realize this is a customer need.

What Is The Purpose of the Website?

If we judge some of the sites by appearances, it seems to be to promote political agendas, brag about accomplishments, look way cool, or to simply have a site whether or not it is functional. Only a few state government sites appeared to be really customer oriented. Kudos to North Carolina for studying its customer needs and completely revamping its site to organize information by customer needs.

Can Your Customer Find Information?

Some of these state sites made finding information on license plates easy with a link on their home pages. More often it required some clicking around to find information. Hawaii and the District of Columbia both have beautiful websites, but I was hard pressed to find information on license plates let alone specialty or vanity plates. West Virginia has its information on specialty license plates tucked in news releases and has a pdf file with pictures. The visitor is left to piece things together without a page to explain what is available. Wyoming simply didn’t have anything on what plates were available at all. Kudos to Nevada for one of the easier sites to use.

Eye Candy or Real Value

Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet has one of the best eye candy sites. Wow. But think about it. Flash pages with animated buttons and lots of color may look nice, but the customer may be asking where’s the beef. How do I find information is the question. Fortunately their motor vehicle licensing page was much more sensible and easy to use with relevant information.

Mississippi has a wonderful looking website, but I’m hard pressed to tell you which page, if any has information on license plates. They have graciously provided a site map with links to fishing licneses, hunting licenses, and driver licenses, but without any reference to license plates.

The New Mexico Taxationa and Revenue Site will give you vertigo. There are separate areas of horizontal and vertical scrolling text that is non-stop.

Bureaucracy or Bang for the Buck

Tiny Rhode Island has the best site for navigation and ease of use. When you arrive at their DMV site, it is all about finding information and you won’t find flash, bouncing text, long-winded letters from important people and pictures of elected officials. It is down to earth and all business. Way to go.

About Webnme2

The author's first experience with computers was with Fortran IV. Wow that's ancient. After graduate school, he taught history for a number of years at a community college before becoming an attorney. In 1997 he changed careers to become a web developer/designer with an interest in all things web related. He currently maintains several dozen websites. This is his personal blog. The opinions expressed are his own.

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