How can we improve the new FCC.gov?

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.

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    Function Over Form shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    82 comments

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      • Pepe LePew commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The only way to improve this site is to bring back the old one. This new web site is just awful. It's too hard to find anything, even a simple search for a broadcast station. What a waste of taxpayer money.

      • Telecom Attorney commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The press is reporting today that the FCC has determined that less than 10% of the visitors to the FCC's website are practitioners. Putting aside how the FCC determined who uses the site and for what purpose (raising some interesting privacy issues), this observation further proves that the new website is being developed primarily as a PR tool with only secondary consideration to the entities that are regulated by the FCC and persons representing such entities. By viewing regulated entities and practitioners as secondary users of the site, the agency overlooks the greater public interest (and ultimate benefit to consumers) in making it efficient for these "minority" of users to efficiently access the site. However, the FCC obviously has a greater interest in promoting itself to the 90% of visitors believed to be consumers (aka voters). Ironically, bandwidth intensive videos of how the FCC is expanding the availability of broadband will not reach consumers who do not have broadband today or who simply choose not to subscribe.

        Maybe the agency could implement its own form of the Fairness Doctrine by posting videos from practitioners or industry representatives explaining how the agency is falling short in its mission, starting with its wasteful expenditure of resources on this so-called new media website.

      • JG commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I agree 100 percent with all of this comment. As a telecom attorney that uses the FCC's website almost daily, I find the new website completely unworkable. The old version was very straightforward and easy to navigate; now all of the substantive information I rely on to do my job everyday is buried deep inside the website and is almost impossible to find. Like other commenters, luckily I have most of the important pages I use everyday bookmarked. Sadly, I'm sure the goverment poured millions of dollars into redesigning the website to incorporate useless, gimicky "social media" tools. Clearly this is an FCC #fail.

      • J Gailey commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        From the perspective of one who uses the FCC web site to access various rules and laws, including the Telecommunications Act, as amended, I can no longer find anything easily. For example, the link to the Telecom Act now takes me to a Report section, which does NOT include the Telecom Act. I have not been able to find it since the new web site was implemented. Also, finding ECFS and other reporting/filing links is nearly impossible.

      • nbruark commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        From the perspective of one involved primarily with Part 90 PLMR (private land mobile radio), I find navigating the new site much more difficult when it comes to finding information specific to private radio proceedings. In fact, when visiting the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) portion of the new site recently (05/23/11), there was virtually no mention of or links to any information pertaining to PLMR, one of the regulatory areas the WTB is charged with. Considering the importance of private LMR systems to most business, industry, and municipal government licensees, I would hope this apparent oversite of lack of information would be corrected as soon as possible.

      • NEWT commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        HARD TO USE ,HARD TO FOLLOW ,BUT i KNOW ,SOMEONES BRO-IN-LAW NEEDED A JOB , OR SOMEONE GOT A KICK-BACK FOR O.K.ING THIS VERSION. .NO ONE LIKES IT BUT THE GOVT. WILL STAND BEHIND IT AND SAY WE ALL LOVED IT..HATE IT......

      • NEWT commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        TIM SAWYER WAS CORRECT , READ HIS POST ONCE MORE.The FCC has and continues to be driven by a PR-firm make over, spending untold amounts of tax-dollars on promoting its own agenda. The new makeover of the site overlooked what we as users of the site cared about access to data and tools. The new site is PR driven to promote the Chairman's agenda. A government agency that has a PR firm - unbelievable.

      • NEWT commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Style over substance is correct..Go bav to the previous version, but that might mean someones friend,relative ,whatever might be told they did a rotten job...Just "another pretty face in the crowd. " NEW VERSION SUX..GO BACK..

      • James E. Whedbee commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Looks like a used-car sales-pitch; go back to what you had and add functionality. This looks like a site for spinning what the FCC wants to sell the public rather than a legitimate government portal to involve the public in governmental decision-making. Stop the hard-sell, stop wasting my taxpayer dollars, and get back to work (for middle class America). I am not interested in what you're currently pushing. JW

      • Steve Szabo commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Sorry, I DO NOT LIKE the "reimaged" web site! Very difficult to navigate as you not only moved the "stuff", but you renamed it! I spend over an hour trying to use the license "search" feature, and finally went back to the old site and found what I need in a few minutes. The new search page is not user friendly. I like the idea of changing the site to make it more user friendly, but agree with the statement that a "graphic deisgner", not an end user or communications person had any input on the content and layout.

      • Steve Szabo commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Sorry, I DO NOT LIKE the "reimaged" web site! Very difficult to navigate as you not only moved the "stuff", but you renamed it! I spend over an hour trying to use the license "search" feature, and finally went back to the old site and found what I need in a few minutes. The new search page is not user friendly. I like the idea of changing the site to make it more user friendly, but agree with the statement that a "graphic deisgner", not an end user or communications person had any input on the content and layout.

      • Pretty bad commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        This new site is really bad. The FCC should go back to the old site while it works with practicing attorneys to develop a new one that is user friendly. Almost the entire first page is taken up with images. How is that helpful to anyone? I have been practicing communications law for years and am boggled at how to find stuff on this website. Luckily, I still have bookmarks to the pages I use most frequently. The most critical pieces of information, such as the description of recent releases, is truncated. leaving plenty of room for images and videoes of FCC staffers. Not helpful. It seems like the new page is trying to drive some agenda or view point as opposed to making information available to consumers and practicioners alike.

      • Telecom Attorney commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        An earlier commenter suggested that functionality of the site will be fine if the search function is sufficiently robust. This comment naively assumes that all of the data that is entered into the various dabases (ECFS, ULS, CDBS, ASR, etc.) will be indexed and searchable in virtually real time and that the search results will not contain a lot of noise. For consumers or casual system users accustomed to relying on Google for all of their research a generic search function might be fine. However a Google-type search is an unacceptable substitute for regulated entities and telecom professionals who need to find specific data or make specific filings in specific databases. When a regulated entity needs to make a required filing by a mandatory deadline it does not want to be wasting time doing a Google-type search in an effort to find the front end of the application for the submission of its filing. Aesthetics of the site are totally irrelevant, and a waste of taxpayer money when the primary purpose of the FCC's website is to serve as the front end for the public to transact business with the agency.

        Is the agency tracking how many people click on "Previous FCC.gov" as soon as they come to the site?

      • Dennis Fernandez commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I also agree with "Style over substance" about needed information and Bureau links being hard to find. I handle the licensing for my agency and I am a radio communications guy, not a web geek. I prefer the old format with the releases right there on the main and Bureau pages where I can quickly scan and see what is relevent to my Agency without having to know what to search for.

      • Tim Sawyer commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The FCC has and continues to be driven by a PR-firm make over, spending untold amounts of tax-dollars on promoting its own agenda. The new makeover of the site overlooked what we as users of the site cared about access to data and tools. The new site is PR driven to promote the Chairman's agenda. A government agency that has a PR firm - unbelievable.

      • Telecom Attorney commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        It's hard to believe that the public asked the FCC to post videos of FCC staff or other PR-type materials on its website. Until now the FCC had one of the most information-rich websites of any federal agency. Please do away with the "new media" flourishes and design a site that is useful for the thousands of regulated entities and consultants who rely on this information on a daily basis to comply with the FCC's requirements.

        Asking which features are needed by professional users of the site misses the mark entirely. If FCC management believes consumers really want to watch videos of FCC staff or read blogs about what issues the staff thinks are important, you can simply add a big button at the top of the old FCC website directing them to the "reimagined FCC," where visitors can explore the magic kingdom of communications created especially for them by the FCC's reimagineers.

      • Larry Couch commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        FCC powers to be, so after reading your customers' comments are you now convinced to remove the new web site and go back to the old!

      • Cary commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I am 100% in agreement with Function Over Form. I have used the FCC's web site daily for more than 15 years and appreciated the simple, direct way things were organized. I'm not a fan of the new site at all. Please don't "reinvent" the web site just for the sake of reinventing something. You are hiding all the news items and making it ****** for practitioners and the public to stay informed. As an example, I can't tell what any of the items are about with just a partial headline (e.g., "Statement of Commissioner Michael J. Copps on the Launch of...") Are you just trying to up the total number of page clicks? I don't want to waste my time clicking on links and guessing where to find the information I need, and I can't imagine anyone clamoring for the ability to "like" FCC releases on Facebook. This is not the way to engage the public. The old site worked fine. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

      • Niklas commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The new web site is VERY hard to follow and use. I can tell it is based on a web site content management system.

        The site needs a consumer side and a licensee side.

        I had to hunt and do multiple clicks just to find the Wireless Communications Bureau, ASR search or the ULS system.

        These searches and needs use to be very obvious and easy to get to.

        The site is now much like a retail site, where they want you to search thru multiple layers to sell you more stuff.

        The web developers need to back up and try again cause that is not the business of the FCC nor the goal of this website.

        It should be EASIER to find things, not more difficult.

        KISS...Keep It Simple Silly...

        They missed this point and the target.

        Put the old one back up until they get it right.

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