Best government Web sites: USA.gov
- By Joab Jackson
- Aug 24, 2008
A few years back, it seemed that USA.gov, then called Firstgov.gov, couldn't get any respect. People flocked to Google and other commercial search engines to find government agency information rather than go to the government's own search service.
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But through relentless improvements and refinements, including a contract with Microsoft and Vivisimo to provide basic spidering services, USA.gov has worked its way into a pre-eminent search service for federal government. It combines the best of a good spider engine ' one that catches all the nooks and crannies of government Web sites ' with Yahoo-style, human-built directories that help people find what they need. There's even a complete version of the site in Spanish.
'You can see how they pay attention to different audiences using the site and different actions they want to accomplish,' said information architecture consultant Thomas Haller.
Also, few sites in government have as extensive a support network as USA.gov. Not only does the site offer a series of tutorials for finding government information in either Flash or plain-text, but the site has a call center for questions (1-800-FED-INFO).
Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.