Have you ever visited the Supreme Court’s Web site? Sure, it’s simple enough, but the thing looks like it was last touched in 1995, by a Web designer working for Prodigy (remember them?). And the Supreme Court’s staffers know it: They’ve requested funds for a redesign. Perhaps they should start by consulting The Sunlight Foundation–a non-partisan non-profit, aimed at greater government transparency–which did a redesign mockup.
As they write:
The most important aspect of the mockup is that it takes into account the Web site’s diverse users. It accommodates the general public and students, legal researchers, court researchers, and litigants. Accordingly, we believe the redesigned Web site must be simple, straightforward, and robust. It must strive to make the Court’s proceedings transparent, incorporate modern design principles, and meet the higher expectations of today’s Web user.
This isn’t a first for the Sunlight Foundation: The organization also did mockups for USA.gov, FEC.gov, EPA.gov, and Data.gov. And lest you think that this is a mere exercise in window dressing, it’s worth noting that bad Web design can serve as propaganda, hiding important information and making big government agencies less accessible and more confusing to outsiders–that is, the citizens who are actually footing the bill.
In the case of the Supreme Court redesign, perhaps the most clever proposed feature is a list of recent decisions on the home page, with a helpful pie chart showing you just how the votes split, and links taking you as far into the issue as you care to go–the point being that by just looking at the Web site, you can understand what those nine big-brains have been noodling upon.
Read more about the other design features, and their rationale, here.