Designing a government website home page is often tricky and you should keep certain factors in mind when designing it. Here are some basic guidelines you can use to design the home page of your department.
The home page of your government website is often the first (and possibly the last) opportunity to attract and retain all visitors, much like the home page of a newspaper. One of the greatest values of a newspaper cover is prioritizing the headlines. Recipients can identify high-priority content and ensure continuity and consistency of style. Even small changes to the home page will have a big impact.
Meeting the government website standards is not always an easy task. The resources are limited and you, as a designer, have to ensure that the website, particularly the home page is carefully designed so as to convey the essential message and direct the visitors to the information or tasks they are looking for.
Keeping that in mind, here are some guidelines for government website home page design. Following them should help you create a great government website home page.
Communicate the Purpose of the Website
Imagine how confusing it would be to walk into a store and not immediately know what services or products are available. The same goes for your home page. It must clearly communicate where the users are, the work your department does, and the work the user can do on your site.
To communicate well, the landing page must pay due attention to branding and higher priority tasks. The home page should also have an impressive and distinctive appearance so that users can recognize it as a starting point when entering from any other location on the site.
- Display the government department name or logo in a reasonable size and in an obvious location. This area of the logo does not have to be large, but it should be larger and more striking than the surrounding elements so that it can attract people’s first attention when they enter the site.
- Emphasize higher priority tasks so users have a clear starting point on the home page. Give these tasks a prominent position, such as the top middle of the page, and don’t give them too much visual competition. In other words, if you emphasize everything, nothing will become the center of attention.
- Keep the number of basic tasks in a small range (1-4) and keep the surrounding area clutter-free. The most challenging but critical aspect of this is determining what is the highest priority task from the user’s perspective. You must have a thorough understanding of user needs, which is best obtained by researching your users in the context of their use of your website before they start using the home page.
Communicate Information About Your Department
All websites must provide a clear way to find information about the work they do. As for a government website, it doesn’t matter how big or small the department is, or how simple or complex the range of services is. People like to know who they are dealing with, and detailed information about the department makes the site credible.
For some websites, such as the websites of large business groups, obtaining company information may be the only reason for users to visit the website. Even for sites that offer simple web services, many users still want to meet the people behind the services.
Spreading misinformation about the agency is a common mistake, especially on government home pages. People need to be able to find the structure of the organization and the people of the organization, but they do not need to have an interface designed to emphasize the internal bureaucratic structure, nor do they need to have an interface that promotes the state of the organization, current minister or department head. Allow citizens to quickly access the services and information they need.
Effective content is one of the most critical aspects of all web design. Most users scan content online rather than read it carefully, so you should optimize the scannability of the content and carefully craft it to convey as much information in as few words as possible. This is especially important for the home page.
Expert editors are an important part of effective content creation. Publishers must not only set standards for style, but they must also ensure that the website always follows them.
Another thing to keep in mind is the accessibility of the content. All and every user, including the disabled ones, must be able to access information on your site. Though this is true for all the pages but is particularly important for your home page, where users are looking for information the most.
You can and probably should use accessibility options such as screen readers, or audio and text transcripts for people with any type of physical disorders that restrict them from accessing the content on your website.
These are the key factors to consider when designing a home page for your government department. Whatever it is, the website must meet the government website standards, and following the above tips will surely help you achieve that.