What makes a usable govt website?

The city of San Jose has developed an 8 point usability scale for its government websites.

These 8 steps lay out simple criteria for key factors to make a website work for visitors. These principles can also apply to legal aid, court, and other law help websites.

Our Legal Help Dashboard 4 key categories (tech performance, discoverability, content, and user-friendly design) subsume many of these individual 8 points. But it’s very useful to see them laid out!

Here are the alpha standards they propose for public interest website quality:

  1. Easy to Use
  2. Easy to Understand
  3. Error-free
  4. Mobile-friendly
  5. Accessible
  6. Consistently Designed
  7. Fast
  8. Discoverable
Copyright: City of San Jose
Copyright: City of San Jose

Copyright: City of San Jose

For legal help, we might add a few key other things on:

  • Making jurisdiction very clear, so people aren’t relying on the wrong region’s laws
  • Using content presentations that will be scannable, presentable on Google, and likely to convey complex legal issues
  • Available in key languages other than English
  • Built for people in high-stress, panic modes — so constantly offering phone numbers & easy access points in addition to the legal information