The Internet is a wasteland of abandoned Web sites, and nowhere is this more true than the ghost town of .Gov homepages forgotten by bureaucrats. Consider the Coalition Provisional Authority Web site, a join effort between coalition partners that, as far as one can gather, was supposed to provide updates and information on the "The New Iraq," and features both English and Arabic versions. The last update--depressing and symbolic in retrospect--reads "Powell Predicts Smooth Turnover of Sovereignty to Iraqi Government." Sites like the CPA's represent all-too-often cases of archaic government sites, inaccessible to the public in both design and content.

However, with the election of our first tech-savvy president--forever twittering, YouTube addressing, and Facebook updating--comes a bold new precedent for public sector Internet activity. Whitehouse.gov's design captures this transition perfectly, and most government agencies and committees have started emulating its format (Simple and professional design, appealing color scheme, slideshow news items, high-res images, blogging, etc.). Yet not all government Web sites follow this template, with many branching out with their own design schemes, for better or for worse. We present to you here the best forward-thinking design that government should embrace, and the unacceptably antiquated and hideous designs we demand Congress to outlaw.
Awesome: Utah.gov
The state of Utah's homepage has won a slew of awards recently for its design, including the 2009 Best of the Web state government Web site award. The site features a replica of Mac OS' dock, complete with colorful icons and helpful tool tips that make the page instantly user-friendly. The modern design signals that content will be just as updated.
Perfect: USASpending.gov
Clearly influenced by the White House's template, the page tracks federal spending in an extremely accessible way, very reminiscent of personal-budget-keeper Web site and iPhone app Mint.com. By providing a dashboard of numbers, colorful pie-charts, and bar-graphs, what could be an overwhelmingly data-heavy project like tracking stimulus dollars turns into a helpful, easy-to-use tool for citizens to understand where their taxes are spent with visual analysis.
God-awful: Senate Budget Committee
Speaking of sites tracking spending data, the Senate Budget Committee offers the complete antithesis of USASpending.gov's design, opting for an entirely minimalist page (Intentional? Who knows?) that's clearly an homage to the Matrix's all-white loading program (or a marshmallow). Even the original Web site, from way back in 1999, featured far more color.
Terrible: FedStats.gov
What year do you think this was designed? Do you have any faith that a site with such an ugly and amateur set up would provide any accurate government statistics?
Amazing: GoArmy.com
The military seriously has its mind on recruitment, and its Web site is an amazing tool to attract new soldiers. Its sleek design, eye-grabbing images, and user-friendly career information make this one of the best Government sites on the net.
WTF: Senate Armed Services Committee
For one of the most powerful committees in Government, it's odd that the Senate Armed Services homepage has the elegance of a GeoCities or Angelfire page. We all know Senator John McCain faces criticism of his age, but this design--with its grainy, border-less images, boring black HTML text, and a background that appears to be a microscopic-view of bacteria--makes him feel like a dinosaur.
Sleek: US Postal Service
The USPS' Priority Mail Web site looks like a privately-held company--a streamlined service for the public and small businesses.
OMFG: House Small Business Committee
Easily one of the ugliest public sector-designed Web sites, the Small Business Committee is boring and boxy. With links to Google Maps, an updated news feed, and YouTube highlights of recent committee dealings, the homepage is completely divorced from the site's modern content.
Never Again: US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
 It's not fair to pick on random city sites, obscure sub-sub-sub committees, or unimportant outmoded agencies, but the US Court of Appeals site for the Armed Forces sums up most abandoned or ancient-feeling government Web sites. Featuring bland tan tables, cheesy animated-GIFs, standard blue hyperlinks, and terribly shaded images, this unusable Web design represents everything we must ban the government from creating or continuing to host.

Fast Company

The Best and Worst of Government Web Design

The Internet is a wasteland of abandoned Web sites, and nowhere is this more true than the ghost town of .Gov homepages forgotten by bureaucrats. Consider the Coalition Provisional Authority Web site, a join effort between coalition partners that, as far as one can gather, was supposed to provide updates and information on the "The New Iraq," and features both English and Arabic versions. The last update--depressing and symbolic in retrospect--reads "Powell Predicts Smooth Turnover of Sovereignty to Iraqi Government." Sites like the CPA's represent all-too-often cases of archaic government sites, inaccessible to the public in both design and content.

However, with the election of our first tech-savvy president--forever twittering, YouTube addressing, and Facebook updating--comes a bold new precedent for public sector Internet activity. Whitehouse.gov's design captures this transition perfectly, and most government agencies and committees have started emulating its format (Simple and professional design, appealing color scheme, slideshow news items, high-res images, blogging, etc.). Yet not all government Web sites follow this template, with many branching out with their own design schemes, for better or for worse. We present to you here the best forward-thinking design that government should embrace, and the unacceptably antiquated and hideous designs we demand Congress to outlaw.

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