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Some Government Websites Outrank Private-Sector Giants in Consumer Report

Image: screen capture of socialsecurity.gov

In a recent report rating consumer satisfaction of government websites, ForeSee Results, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based research firm, rated the most effective federal websites and provided key areas for agencies to consider as they bolster an online presence in a tough economic climate.

According to ACSI’s 100-point scale, satisfaction with federal websites, scored at 75, is higher than overall satisfaction with the federal government. And while private-sector websites, on average, score better than federal websites, the best-scoring federal websites outperform even the best-scoring private-sector websites, the report found.

For example, the Social Security Administration’s suite of websites, including an online-claims portal, placed highest on the list scoring higher private-sector leaders, such Amazon, Netflix and the Heinz food company.

In addition to SSA’s iClaim site, its retirement estimator and its Medicare prescription site, rounding out the top five government sites were Medlineplus.gov and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Spanish website.

The ForeSee report says leveraging several key features can make for a good site: functionality or overall usefulness and convenience of the site is paramount. Online transparency, which is ostensibly the raison d’etre of open-gov sites is also important. How quickly and thoroughly the website posts information online about its doings as well as the usefulness of the search function are also key indicators.

Knowing which elements of a website are most important for consumers is especially important now that the federal E-Government has been dramatically reduced by Congress in the six-month continuing resolution that averted a government shutdown two weeks ago. “With limited resources, government agencies may not be able to make all of the improvements they would like to for their websites,” the report states.

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