New site emphasizes style over substance
The new site looks very pretty, but unfortunately it appears to have been designed by graphic designers and not by anyone who actually uses the FCC's site.
Someone who actually participates in FCC proceedings wants to know what the most recent actions are that have been taken by the Commission and its Bureaus. This person also wants to know about meetings, workshops, and changes to comment deadlines. This person also wants to be able to quickly access the relevant detailed information from each bureau.
All of this important information is buried or truncated to the point of being unusable under the new site design.
Under the original site, the front page contains the complete name of each news release along with prominent links to the full version of the document in Word or PDF format. Under the new version you get a severely truncated version of the title that may not even give you the most important information (e.g., "Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Accounces Division Name..." Name what??). At least when you click on the "More from the newsroom" link you get a list with the complete names, but this information should be on the front page. Furthermore, when you do get to that page, you have to click again on the name to get to a third page that gives an unofficial HTML text version of the document with links to the official versions in PDF/Word/etc. Why are these links to the documents not prominently featured on the front page? It might be less attractive, but at least the important information is available with one click as opposed to three.
Navigating the Bureau pages are even more ridiculous. On the old (or "grown up") version of the FCC homepage, you could access the Bureaus with one click from the menu on the right, then you were taken to a page that prominently listed all the recent actions taken by the Bureau, with direct links to the documents.
Now, there is a drop down at the top that will take you to a "Bureaus and Offices" homepage. From there you can click on the Bureau you want. At the new Bureau homepage, you are greeted by an "Inside the Bureau" list of somebody's opinion of what are the most important current activities. Below that you finally get to something usable, misleadingly named "Related Information." Here we have the headlines, but these also suffer from unfortunate truncation. (e.g., "Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Announces Deadlines For Comments...") Again, this is completely unhelpful and hides the most important information from the user.
This is only a quick assessment. I'm sure that a more complete review of the websit would reveal many other places where form was so far elevated above function as to produce absurd results. Please keep in mind that people come to the FCC's site to access information about specific, often highly technical, regulatory proceedings. The overwhelming majority of the site's users will be much more interested in getting complete headlines and instant access to Bureau documents than they will be in seeing videos of bureau chiefs talking about their jobs.
William Beckwith commented
I seriously question why we need so much front page space devoted to speeches/videos. This is probably better suited to a "meet the FCC" page. A better balance between function and aesthetics could be struck in the layout. Right now, it seems that aesthetics has been given the priority by far. And, as we all know, there is no accounting for taste. So, it is better to go with function. After all, this is a government website, not an infomercial.
Function Over Form commented
I agree. Ultimately the FCC site should be a resource for current, detailed, and occassionally highly technical information. I have no problem with a graphic/animation featuring the ongoing initiatives the Commission is most proud of, however don't make it difficult to actually use the site.
Function Over Form commented
tl;dr: The headlines/names of documents should not be truncated. Currently they are occasionally meaningless. The emphasis should be more on quickly providing useful information, not on happy graphics and fluffy videos.