Visual design for high-volume government and news websites

8 Dec 2008 - 9:53am
640 reads
Mike Padgett

Hi, everyone!

I'm a senior UX professional working on the new iteration of a government website that's been around in some form or other for about 10 years. Among specialists in the field, it's well known, but it's also expected to address the public. This iteration represents a complete overhaul in terms of output and purpose.

The project is at a stage now where we're starting to look at visual design issues and at this point, having read widely on this, I wanted to ask you for your insights. I'll try to keep the details as brief as possible.


The intended website's primary functions are as follows:

* Deliver policy information
* Announce news, press releases and legal outcomes
* Cover special events
* Provide current and historical statistics

Studying the current website has shown us that, although our role ostensibly is to represent a governmental function, we are actually performing many of the activities of online journalism. Previous iterations have not reflected this growing trend. In the new version, we'll need to be able to:

* React very quickly to new developments
* Assign proper visual weighting to information of a variety of types
* Balance the needs of presenting volatile and static information

*** THE QUESTION(s) ***

1. Do you know of any high-volume government or news websites, perhaps in your country or in others, that you would rate somewhere between very effective and superb for delivering complex, sometimes time-sensitive information such as policies and statistics?

2. Do you know of any hefty websites in which you consider the typography and grid systems to be exemplary? I'm especially interested in sites that use these to react robustly to frequent change.

3. Do you have any words of warning (encouragement is also welcome ;-D) or cautionary tales along the lines described above?

It's a long post, so thanks for your patience if you read this far! I'd love to hear your thoughts now.


Mike Padgett

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