U.S. announces official web design system

Originally published at: U.S. announces official web design system | Boing Boing


Finally, this is something that has annoyed me when I was doing grad school research papers on the Department of Energy sites. Some were awesome in their layout and site maps but others were just a disaster to comb through. I’m sure it’s better in some cases now but maybe this will light a fire under the butts of the web monkeys contracted by the bureaucracy to clean up the layouts.


The sample websites shown seem maybe a little denser than the UK, but far from overcrowded. Hardly a bureaucrat’s dream. And the folks at the GSA and 18F have done a fantastic job of promoting modern web practices throughout the Federal government.


I’m a little curious about what you mean here. On the corporate side, at least, contemporary American style seems to lean in the direction of just disgusting amounts of pointless whitespace(looking at you, win10 Settings dialog); and, while I don’t doubt that many a fiefholder inserted themselves because vexing the subject matter experts is Leadership; I’m not sure why their input would be in favor of greater density rather than either pulling in all directions and averaging out to not much; or fixating on some other amateur designer sin.


Maybe West Virginia changed theirs recently? Because it doesn’t look that different than Vermont or really any other nondescript state website.

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During the rollout of the Affordable Care Act to the states, the federal government convened a bunch of web designers and engineers to put together a guide to help states set up their state health insurance exchange websites. The package they distributed had a set of very nice and simple html+js+css templates, plus huge packets of guidance material breaking down the decisions they’d made and visual guides to user stories. They called it EnrollUX 2014.

It was useful, educational and totally free, all in service of things rolling out smoothly. It was so encouraging to see the government acknowledge the softer investments needed to make sure something rolls out successfully and smoothly. Of course, the rollouts were rough for various reasons, but I was impressed and inspired by that.

ETA: The design firm IDEO that they worked with still ahs a post on the project:

(I still have the whole thing saved on my company’s website if you want to DM me…)


it was a joke about states being contradictory for the sake of being contradictory. which is probably true, unfortunately. now that there’s a recommendation, abbott and de santis will probably frame this as the government taking over the entire web


Being self-employed illustrators, my wife and I were overjoyed when Obamacare passed. We had been without health insurance for a dozen years. For all that the media still loves to chortle about the initial rollout of the ACA website being a debacle, I have found the Healthcare dot gov site to be one of the most user friendly, easily navigated websites I have ever encountered. It’s a breeze to enroll every year. Sadly, our dumb governor wants to do his own thing here in Georgia. I dread navigating whatever he has planned for us.


This isn’t new. This is about v3.0 of the design system. Which isn’t new either, being released in April 2022. The first version was something like 2019? Maybe earlier?


This is simultaneously encouraging and nerve-wracking. I have to spend a significant amount of time on government websites for compliance reporting, compliance guidelines and just straight up reading the law. Much of that in my world consist of really, really old laws and guidelines that look like they were distributed via teletype and then just uploaded to the early web. Those website have only in the past few years gotten somewhat useable and less Byzantine. The agency in question basically can’t say “boo” without a congressional directive, so it inevitably results in weird bloat and maze-like structures that usually end in having to check a perjury statement that I’ve complied with shit only a lawyer could truly comprehend (makes me nervous every time).

I really hope this actually fixes that instead of ripping the rug out yet again.

Edit for redundant language.


on the whole, i concur. the messages section however is extremely annoying. you have to download pdfs to discover your eligibility, which i’m sure is meant to be “secure” - but is a pain to use ( hello new window, or worse new app ) and seems terrible for shared machines ( ex. a library )

changing coverage ( due to job and income changes ) is also fairly confusing. ( and i’m assuming that’s deliberate, to try to limit people from doing so too easily. )

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