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E-government. Constructing a state web portal through design alternatives, measurement and iterative refinement

Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Publication Date
  • Design
  • Political Science


E-Government Constructing a State Web Portal Through Design Alternatives, Measurement and Refinement Iterative by Tom Brinck Tom Brinck is co-author of the book Usability for the Web: Designing Websites That Work and president of Diamond Bullet Design ( in Ann Arbor; Michigan. Tom is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, where he teaches user integace design. He can be reached at tom@ n the year 2000, the developers of a large-state I portal approached us with a need to redesign the information architecture of their state website. The portal provided access to thousands of state agen- cies. Users consistently expressed frustration in finding relevant information. Through a series of user interviews and user tests with successive prototypes of the new archi- tecture, we dramatically improved the success rate and time for finding information through the state site. Our approach was based on systematically exploring the design space and was metric-based, allowing us to show formal quantitative evidence of site improvement and make well-grounded esti- mates of financial benefit for the state. Our approach was fundamentally user-centered, gathering feed- back from many people throughout the process to achieve effective tradeoffs in the design. Background Research In order to inform our redesign, we began the process by conducting interviews, creating user profiles, analyzing “competitive” sites, conducting card sorting and analyzing the common tasks that users would perform. Interviews. Our project was done in collaboration with the state government and the company that was developing and supporting the site. Our initial step was to develop an understanding of how peo- ple interact with their state and what they wanted from their state website. We sent usability special- ists to visit several cities and interview citizens. When people were asked what activit

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