U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Usability

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Did you know that your tax dollars are being used to teach web design? Why? A Google Search for “how to design a highly usable Web site” results in over a million hits. Surely one of them teaches web design. For free.

But wait – maybe it’s not a complete waste of money – they offer some web design classes!

Class Title: An Advanced Course on Writing for the Web — A Day of Guided Practice

Instructor: Ginny Redish, PhD, Redish & Associates, Inc.

Date/Time: June 27, 2007 9 am – 4 pm (EDT)

Place: Department of Labor Directions to DOL

Fee: $200 (federal, state and local government); $300 (non-government)

Wow! $200 if you are being PAID by the taxpayers and $300 if you ARE one of the taxpayers.

Perhaps they aren’t wasting our money after all – maybe they pay for the web site with the profits from the class. Somehow I doubt it though.

But look at the amazing things you’ll “practice” during this class:

  • rethinking the content (what should be kept and what should be dropped);
  • reorganizing content;
  • writing useful headings;
  • turning paragraphs of text into instructional steps and tables where appropriate;
  • writing short, clear sentences;
  • including relevant graphics

Certainly it’s worth $300 for all of that! Better hurry and sign up though – the class is next week.

What is the purpose of this site?

Usability.gov is the primary government source for information on usability and user-centered design. It provides guidance and tools on how to make Web sites and other communication systems more usable and useful. Topics include:

  • a step-by-step guide on how to plan, analyze, design, and usability test a highly usable Web site;
  • quick access to the latest usability methods;
  • an introduction to usability, how to get started, and what it costs;
  • the latest research-based Web design guidelines;
  • templates and examples for assessing audience needs, writing a usability test report;
  • and much more.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Usability

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Comments

  1. DEWagner says:

    So you don’t think it’s a good idea that the government establish it’s own expertise on this subject? I’m sure the government is responsible for millions of web pages.

    The site intends to provide objective, evidence-based usability guidance. It could save it’s users much time sorting through the mountain of usability data available on and off the web.

    As far as the cost of the classes: I assume charges are assessed to make the training operation pay for itself. From a taxpayer view, the $200 to $300 charge certainly saves over the going rate of $1200 per day of other usability/web training providers.

    I am not a government employee or contractor. I am a usability specialist. Pointing to the government site has helped to convince managers of the validity of usability guidelines.

  2. @Paul – you won’t bait me on this – simply put, this is a stupid site. Find me ANY value it adds above what already exists WITHOUT tax dollars being spent.

    There is no “value added” here. And I didn’t attack the educator – good for her if she is making some money. It doesn’t make the site more useful.

    Just because the Government CAN do something doesn’t mean they SHOULD do something.

    This site is evidence of that.

  3. “I see NO reason for tax dollars going to instruction on building web sites – not when there is a ton of free information already available.”

    == That’s a self-defeating statement: just remove “on building web sites” .. and it still holds true… but is also absurd.
    There is a ton of information on the web, for free, on ANYTHING! You’re here argueing that, because of that, we should disband state/nation/government sponsored education! You sure about this?

    And they aren’t even doing a good job of it!

    == You took the class?

    And yes – charging ME *more* THAN a Government employee, when the site and class are alread co-funded by me (a taxpayer) DID piss me off a bit.

    == Rob, YOU have been ‘government’! And you traveled around the world… for the government! For the TAX PAYER! And, believe it or not, you have stayed at hotels at ‘reduced’rates’, because … you worked for the government!

    This lady (Ginny Redish) is a very good friend of ours and stayed at our place and I know, first hand, that she truly IS an expert on the subject matter! She KNOWS what she’s talking about, and believe me… you AND me… could learn a LOT from her!

    But mostly I think the entire site is a waste of tax dollars.

    == I bet a lot of people think that of http://www.nasa.gov … but others think otherwise.. all a matter of taste. Plus, unlike Nasa.. there aren’t THAT much tax payer dollars involved.

    If you REALLY want to talk tax payer money … let’s talk about the war in Iraq!

    STILL okay with that, Rob?

  4. @Paul – it’s simple – I see NO reason for tax dollars going to instruction on building web sites – not when there is a ton of free information already available.

    And they aren’t even doing a good job of it!

    And yes – charging ME *more* THAN a Government employee, when the site and class are alread co-funded by me (a taxpayer) DID piss me off a bit.

    But mostly I think the entire site is a waste of tax dollars.

    Rob

  5. I’m a bit dense today … what’s your point here?

    Is it the disparity in fees (government versus non-government) or the assumption that these people have nothing useful to say about web design? Is their price too high?

    What is it that you have against these people .. good friends of ours …

    What is wrong with them offering their services and knowledge to the public for money?

    Aren’t you doing exactly the same?