Written by Hirsch Fishman on January 20th, 2009
There are many things that get handed over to the incoming president at noon every Inauguration Day: the keys to Air Force One, the Oval Office, and… the password to Whitehouse.gov?
Yes, you read that correctly.
Barack Obama ran for office using arguably the most technologically-committed campaign ever. The new look of the White House website is no surprise when you keep that in mind – although I must say that I actually was a bit surprised to hear about it. Considering everything else that is being talked about this inauguration day, honestly, who was even thinking about the White House website?
The new look of the White House website picks up where his campaign and transition websites left off. In fact, if you go to Change.gov now, there is a note saying that the “transition has ended and the new administration has begun. Please join President Barack Obama at Whitehouse.gov” – so you do get the sense of continuity from one phase of his election and presidency to the next.
Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House and a contributor to the White House blog, writes that the new website is “just the beginning of the new administration’s efforts to expand and deepen the online engagement” that many Americans used to help play a role in the election.
I think what I’m most impressed with the most is how Obama’s calls for transparency and communication in government were carried over to the website. What those two things translate most readily into in web design terms is what I talk about all the time – a commitment to site usability.
What are some features on the new website that make it very usable and that I really like?
Of course, the snazzy Web 2.0 design really does wonders in tying eveything together, and the web designer in me can’t help but wonder if it’s running on WordPress!
I know I’m probably being a bit too nit-picky here, but there are a few small touches that I would have done differently:
Overall though, this is a great website that I’m very impressed with. I’m curious to see how the website grows and changes over time as more content is posted to it – pending legislation and executive orders, for example – and new features come online – such as the RSS feeds, which aren’t quite ready yet.
From a marketing angle, I think it very accurately reflects the message that the new administration wishes to convey about itself. And as I’ve written elsewhere, if the design of a website is able to help convey the right message about an organization, then that truly a great website.
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