Government Analysis: America.gov
Visually America.gov is consistent with http://www.disa.mil/, http://www.fda.gov/, and http://www.nasa.gov/ in that the main focus of the page is a large image that is positioned to the left of the main text and just below the menu bar. This portion of the page tends to be the first place the eye wants to go once a website is opened, and since typically people don’t want to read anymore the imagery attracts and maintains their attentions from the instant they load the site. Similar to http://www.disa.mil/, and http://www.fda.gov/, the imagery on the America.gov main page consists of a streaming flash slideshow with captions that also provide links to each piece of news. This is an effective design technique because it illustrates the essential components of the page without forcing the viewer to start wandering around through title bars and menus.
The DISA and FDA sites also resemble the America.gov site by their usage of color. Sticking with somewhat neutral tones of gray with pops of blacks and blues these three pages scream government uniform to me. I am assuming this was the effect they were going for. Additionally, all of the pages I analyzed featured menu bars equipped with some sort of slide out or drop down menu. These are simple ways to add content to the front page without initially overloading the reader with text, a positive design choice in my opinion.
One difference I noticed from the America.gov site to the other sites is that it features links to online communities on various social networks. I bet this has to do with the website’s slogan “Engaging the world,” and I am actually a little surprised that none of the other government sites I looked at featured the option(s) to follow them or become a part of their online networks. I would have thought that NASA and the DISA sites would advertise their social networks since part of the goal of the websites is to recruit members and/or supporters.
Overall I felt that the America.gov site was successfully designed. It is easy to navigate, the colors are easy on the eyes yet consistent with the theme and the slideshow of images and captions is captivating. Additionally, the fact that this website has feature stories about ongoing concerns of U.S. citizens like protecting religious and press freedom give it appealing content, controversy always sells.