Refreshing directory.gov.au

Author: 
AGIMO - WPG Review Team
Category: 

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The Government Online Directory website www.directory.gov.au has been undergoing a makeover.  This week you will notice a significant improvement to the old look and feel that you would be used to.  Before and after examples are below.

Take a look and let us know what you think by responding in the comments below, or giving feedback directly to the directory.gov.au team.

Home Page

directory.gov.au - Home - Original

 

Before

directory.gov.au - Home - New

 

After

Organisation Detail Page

directory.gov.au - Organisation - Original

 

Before

directory.gov.au - Organisation - New

 

After

Search Results

directory.gov.au - Search - Original

 

Before

directory.gov.au - Search - New

 

After

A-Z List

directory.gov.au - A-Z - Original

 

Before

directory.gov.au - A-Z - New

 

After

New functionality will be added in the coming weeks including RSS feeds, increased accessibility compliance and improved search capability.

Comments (9)

It would be great to see the content of the site and A Guide to the Australian Government licenced under the CC-BY licence as well as releasing a similarly licenced database export of the site to data.gov.au. This would let the wider Government 2.0 community explore a model of the whole government - how portfolios are made up of their relevant departments and statutory agencies and how departments are organised.
This would be in line with the recently announced British open government push which provides that "Organograms for central government departments and agencies that include all staff positions to be published in a common format from October 2010."

It's a good start interface wise, but this doesn't come close to dealing with underlying ux & service design issues with the site.

There's really no excuse for using complex, query string value laden URL's on the site. This is bad for not only SEO, but users being able to get to content.

Secondly, content links from the Homepage for govt. departments and agencies don't deliver what a normal user would expect. They're delivering users to the ministers page for each department (which is blank). An example:
http://www.directory.gov.au/osearch.php?o%3DFinance%20and%20Deregulation...
(NB: This is true for all agencies linked from homepage)

Navigation elements that need to be used for getting desired information are on the far right hand side of the page - which eye tracking studies should tell you aren't where users are going to look first, or know their purpose.

This is really bad from a user experience perspective.

There's also some assumptive knowledge going on here which suggests potential target audiences might not have been considered. The page assumes that the user knows which agency they want to speak to, or which one deals with their enquiry.

I would have thought it would have been far easier to browse if the subject directory was front and centre.

Further, for the subject directory that exists it's pretty terrible. It's loaded with prefixes for agency names, items which are relevant to the whole of govt. but only have info for one agency (look at all media enquiries for example).

Also, does this service & contact directory not relate closely to existing information data sets (australia.gov.au services directory)? Are the two sites/data sets linked, or is this a disparate set of information requiring information to be maintained in two places?

There is fundamental service design issues that need to be resolved here to make the site and underpinning data of true value.

I'm really not a fan of lists of links and on seeing the homepage I felt quite confronted and 'lost' on where to find the information I want.

The titles are very large in comparison to the text, and the Serif font doesn't really add value. There was also no short description of what the site was for or how to navigate it. This type of information is GOLD (excuse the pun) for people visiting the site for the first time.

The blue header is extremely dark and a little hard on the eyes and the header links are a little too small for easy readability.

I'm sorry the new look just doesn't work for me.

Deeper in the site the layout is refreshingly updated, however headings are still much too large and again the Serif font isn't working for me.

Having home page links expressed as 'home page link' isn't my preference. I like to see the actual HTTP link alongside the text, which would be consistent with how email links are portrayed. Currently the usage is inconsistent and jarring.

There seems to be far too much link clicking to get to information that could be presented on the same page, and there's a tendency to see a blank page on first view which isn't very useful at all. For example, when going to the page for the Dept of Broadband Communications using the link in the homepage, you have to click at least one more time before getting any information.

There's some odd grammatical choices, such as capitalising 'Comments' in the middle of a phrase on the feedback page. Perhaps a second review of the text is in order.

I also wonder about the choice of 'Organisation' in the search bar. Has there been analysis of whether people search most for organisations, people or subjects? Why not offer a unified search with differentiated search results (into the three categories)?

Where are the new features? Auto-generated trees of Departments and Agencies and, within Agencies, of the key people? Cross-references between subjects and Departments so people can see at a glance which Agency is responsible for which topics?

Was there much reference to state or international juridsiction directories, to share research and usability findings - or simply to benchmark how they look and function?

Personally I think the NSW directory offers a better user experience than the National directory and the QLD directory offers possibly the worst in Australia - though as the SA directory is experiencing technical difficulties it's a toss-up.

Overall, it is nice to see some update of this site - which was looking very tired. However there appears to be a lot more work to be done to make this a visually effective, as well as functionally effective, website.

thank you for your comments - we welcome your feedback and we will continue to work on this to improve our site.

Thanks all for your comments so far - you've touched on several functional shortcomings we've observed for a little while and hope to address shortly. This small release was a 'no new front-end functions, no new back-end changes, no new markup' release, limited to CSS only. Essentially - a lick of paint.

While the paint dries, and people get used to the idea that the site is changing, we'll be stripping down and building up the underlying foundations of the site - I suppose that's an example of where construction analogies fail to apply to IT projects.

Those who may be frequent users of the site (or who may be comfortable inspecting source code, metadata, and running accessibility and compliance checks) will observe more changes to the site as we progress the project.

We hope to continue posting to the blog when future significant releases go out.

I strongly agree that usability and web 2 should be linked very strongly together. The culture of government web design needs to change. I’d love to see a mandated portion of development budgets set aside for UX.

It seems easy to get around and quick to find what i need

Perhaps a spam filter for the blog might be next on the agenda...

James, you may be interested in this post.

Comments on this post are now closed. Please let us know if you would like to discuss this post.

Last updated: 27 July 2016