Friday, July 04, 2008

eGov review: Vic Graduated Licensing System

The Victorian government has impressed me for several years for their commitment to the effective use of the online channel in government initiatives.

Their Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for young drivers has been extremely well-supported online, with one of the most creative approaches to the channel I've seen in government.

I don't know the budget for the development, however they have made good use of cheap open-source applications, using the Joomla content management system (one I use personally) for the website and using Youtube for storage and distribution of the campaign video.

The video created for the GLS was the highlight for me - it is quite watchable, full of humour and very unlike a traditional government advertisement. In fact I first discovered this site through people recommending the video on blogs.

The website is well designed to appeal to the main target market - young drivers - using strong imagery and fewer words that your average government website. The navigation is clear and the text effectively customised for the different audiences, but consistently retaining the same voice and with minimal jargon.

The site is designed to function effectively across Firefox and Internet Explorer and has well formed code and metadata, so realistically a few tweaks would make this complete.

Interestingly enough, the site's government branding is placed at the bottom of the page. Given the audience this may help make the site feel more friendly and less formal.

I found many parts of the website a little disappointing. The body text in the site is quite small and there is no control built into the site to allow adjustments to text size. While this is acceptable for the main audience, one of the secondary audiences - the parents of young drivers - could have difficulty reading the small text, particularly as it is white on black.

There is a search function, which is a positive, particularly as there is no site map. However it is unusually placed in the middle-right side of the site, detached from the top menu and most frequent placement for this type of function.

The search results did not appear to be optimised well either. A search on 'GLS', the initials of the system, presented as the top result the new radio campaign. A page actually explaining the GLS did not appear at all in the first (of 5) pages of results.

The FAQ section could also do with some refinement. Firstly it presents results in question then answer format, but without a list of questions at the top. This means that someone seeking an answer has to read down the page in the hoping of finding it. This is made even harder as the questions are in gray text, on the site's black background, making them easy to miss as they are less visible than the rest of the text.

So in conclusion, it's a good campaign, with an excellent video for the medium and backed by a decent website.

With some refinements to the text sizing (such as a control to change name), search placement and results weighting and to the presentation of the FAQs, it could be a great site.

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