06 Nov Usability.gov
Or – Better Digital UX Design Through Government Intervention.
Did you realize that the U.S. Government has a website devoted to digital media usability? I recently discovered the hidden gem that is Usability.gov. It is perhaps, a little known resource for website usability, content and marketing professionals.
The site features sections covering the Basics of User Experience, Content Strategy, Project Management, Visual Design and general usability guidelines for documents and templates. And while this information is very helpful and well-organized, the very existence of this site poses a very relevant question, why is the U.S. Government devoting resources to website/digital usability and proposing to set standards for these frequently debated “best practices?”
Perhaps the very fact that the U.S. Government’s department of Health and Human Services has devoted resources in an attempt to set some standards underscores the very importance of digital media usability?
Some very, very good arguments can be made for digital media usability “standardization.” Most of these revolve around accessibility. Setting digital media accessibility standards seems like an area under the perview of government intervention, Americans with Disabilities Act and all that. To me, when the usability.gov site inches into the territory of aesthetics, it seems to cross the well-defined line of American individualism and government intervention. (AKA: The right in some States to shop at Walmart wearing only your American Flag cut-offs with a Glock 17 9mm pistol strapped to your hip.)
And while these standards aren’t mandated, would you follow the gentle usability design guidelines created by a U.S. Government agency?
I’d be curious to know if you’ve seen this website and have checked out their standards. While the site seems to contain useful, common-sense and practical information, we wonder if a country like Belgium has a similar website? And what if the Belgian standards differed from the American ones? Would this be the dawn of the great Usability Wars of 2025?
It even appears that someone at Health & Human Services turned their job justification meter up to 11 and created a pithy little video showcasing just how important the new HHS.gov website is to the American people.