Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

Why Is It So Hard to Make a Website for the Government?

Wed, 11/23/2016 - 14:05 -- rprice

The Code for America team’s plan had always been to leave the scarier stuff off the website — questions like, “Have you ever traded food stamps for explosives?” or “Have you ever committed a felony?” Those questions could be answered during the live interview. The key was to settle on how much information to ask for at the start. Require too much, and users would be put off and give up; too little, and the eligibility workers, who preferred more details rather than fewer, would complain. In the end, the team settled on a compromise. After the user submitted a name and an address, two choices would present themselves: to continue filling out the rest of the application or to “Stop working and submit application now.” Clicking the second option would lead to another page and the warning: “Are you sure you want to submit right now? Since we only know your name and address, it will be hard to process your application. Instead of finishing it on the phone, we will have to send you paperwork