State legislature sites need UX tuneup

State legislature sites need UX tuneup

If usability is the key to successful websites, state legislatures have some work ahead of them.

A recent report that compared features of legislative websites to those in industry found that state legislature sites are less mobile friendly and use fewer analytical tools and security protocols.

FiscalNote, a legislative and regulatory analytics company, compared features of 54 state legislature websites to the web technologies employed by 973 software-as-a-service companies, and found the majority of states’ sites to significantly “trail industry standards.

The average SaaS site uses PHP as its framework, WordPress as its content management system, Amazon Web Services for hosting servers and Google Analytics for tracking. JavaScript JQuery, SSL encryption Google Fonts are also employed by SaaS websites, according to FiscalNote.

In contrast, 65 percent of state legislature websites rely on .NET running in IIS servers; only nine state legislatures had an identified CMS, and only 11 percent use SSL certificates. JavaScript tools were detected on most sites but infrequently used, and Google Analytics was detected on less than half the sites. 

On the front end, a mobile CSS and responsive design offer content flow, scalability and better user experience that is more frequently found on the SaaS sites.

Usability aside, state legislature sites excel in the site speed category. According to FiscalNote, the average state legislature homepage weighs 949 KB and requires 40 server requests. The average page weight for all websites on the Internet is 2,131 KB with 101 server requests.

FiscalNote advocates states adopting technologies to enhance usability to provide better online services for citizens.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a Reporter/Producer for GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media, Ziadeh was a contributing journalist for USA Today Travel's Experience Food and Wine site. She's also held a communications assistant position with the University of Maryland Office of the Comptroller, and has reported for the American Journalism Review, Capitol File Magazine and DC Magazine.

Ziadeh is a graduate of the University of Maryland where her emphasis was multimedia journalism and French studies.

Click here for previous articles by Ms. Ziadeh or connect with her on Twitter: @aziadeh610.

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