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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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