Friday, March 20, 2009

Measuring Gov 2.0 (via Web 1.0): Brookings

As I mentioned in this post, I am producing a blog series regarding the measurement of Web 1.0 in preparation for an upcoming presentation with Ari Herzog on Thursday, March 26. I originally blogged about the Brookings Study here on January 25. Consider this post a "Part 2" with a bit more detail about the study itself and some brief commentary on its application to Gov 2.0

Since 2000, the Brookings Institution has analyzed more than 1,500 state and federal government websites. These websites are ranked on a zero to 100-point scale called the e-government index that measures the presence of the following website features:

• Advertisements
• Audio clips
• Commenting
• Databases
• Digital signatures on transactions
• Disability access
• E-mail contact information
• E-mail updates
• Foreign language access
• Pay via credit card
• PDA or handheld device accessibility
• Personalization of the website
• Premium fees
• Privacy policies
• Publications
• Security policies
• User fees
• Video clips

Each of these features is worth 4 points. With 18 features noted above, a website may obtain a total of 72 points. Websites may receive another 28 points based on the number of these online services that are available. For instance, if there are 4 audio clips, a sign-up for receiving e-mail updates and a personalized page for kids, my understanding is that the website receives 6 more points.

In other words, the key question being asked in this study is: do they have the feature or not? If so, give them the points. If not, no points are granted. I am sure that the research and analysis is a bit more sophisticated than this simple presentation, but you have a sense of the methodology.

Some of the results from the Brookings Study are important as we consider e-government adaptation of social media. For instance, just 48% of websites included the possibility of users offering “comments” and only 25% created “personalization” of the user experience. If the hallmark of Web 3.0 will be mobility, then we have a long way to travel as only 3% of the websites were accessible by PDA.

The study’s recommendations included:

1. Websites should have strong privacy and security policies so users feel safe while online.
2. Agencies should have layouts similar to the portal page.
3. Agencies should have navigational guides and site maps.
4. The “What’s New?” section should be conveniently located on each agency’s homepage.
5. All websites should have search engines.
6. Agencies should strive to have personalized web pages, such as a kids’ page.
7. Website should provide foreign language accessibility.

While these recommendations are valid and useful, they are clearly measuring a Web 1.0 reality: the extent to which information is shared with the end user, but not whether the visitor is being invited to interact with the agency.

So what are the implications and applications for Government and Web 2.0?

A. The Brookings methodology presents one model for measuring government agencies and Web 2.0. What if we listed a series of Web 2.0 tools, like blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, video sharing sites, social networks, etc. and assigned points based on an agency’s use of them or not?

B. Privacy and security issues are still critical with Web 2.0. Keep elements on the list of features to be included in an updated evaluation of government Web activity.

C. Personalization is another hallmark of Web 2.0. Like Recovery.gov or Ready.gov, agencies should consider creating dedicated web sites or web pages for key initiatives and programs or making it clear where a person can find information from the agency home page.

D. Personalization should also include the degree to which a user can manipulate a web site to view content that is relevant to them, including the use of movable or embeddable widgets.

Enough from me - what are your thoughts?

No comments: