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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      • Chris commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The change is useless. Re-imagined indeed! We don'ty need anyoine in government to be imagining anything. Just do the job you are supposed to. The old site is just as useless as this one. I have been complaining about an issue for years and have yet to get one single response. Not even a "you don't have an issue" response.
        The FCC has like the rest of our government been sold out to big business who do with it as they see fit. For example the Web freedom issue. The FCC could simply have acted inthe best interest of the people and issued a regulation that made the web free. But instead they sold themselves to the big corps and now we no longer have a free web.
        Its not like most of whast you can get on it wasn't already next to useless, but now its legal for companies to openly limit access and information. It is now legal to control everything you know or can know through the web. The web is pretty much pointless now. thanks to cowards at FCC who wouldn't do their job for THE PEOPLE. If anyone at any time manages to create something decent it will be coopted just like A&E, Discovery, History Channel, etcetera were. That too was because the FCC won't do the job it is supposed to.
        So the Re-imagined site is nice looking just like the whores spouting propaganda for fox are nice looking, but the content of it is pretty much useless to anyone who isn't benefitting from the things that propaganda makes people do.

      • Gary commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The FCC (and this website in particular) needs to be even handed in content and utility. The FCC STILL is chartered to serve ALL users of spectrum - and each segment of the regulated sectors should be afforded the same utility and function as the broadband and social media seem to be getting. The site has become almost totally useless for many users.

        I challenge you to find the “broadcasting” or “media bureau” pages. It is not easy. It’s also interesting that the “Media & Marketplace” page says nothing about broadcasting.

        When you do finally get to the vestiges of the broadcasting material, the pages are emasculated, thin on content, and seem heavily biased to the new initiatives…and especially the “blogs”.

        Traditional Broadcasting, the wireless services, amateur radio, and other radiating systems are STILL here, still relevant, still needed and important and STILL a large industry.

        Frankly, this new site seems to be a continuation of an inexplicable and apparently deliberate marginalization and diminution of the broadcasting sector in particular. It would be less offensive if this were at least even handed and traditional broadcasting wasn’t being so seemingly deliberately written off.

        I urge you to modify this site so that it is fair, even handed, and provides "home pages" for each of the sectors that the FCC regulates and serves.

      • Larry Couch commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I agree 1000% with the coment that "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." I used the Old FCC web site and specifically, the link to "Recent Releases" multiple times a day for FCC news. Now I can not find anything and most all of my 25+ bookmarks will have to be re-set. What a waste of the telecommunications managers' time! The Old FCC web site was not broken, Why did you try to fix it?

      • Function Over Form commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The news feed function needs more work. Today the Commission adopted three items, each item has a news release and statements by four Commissioners. If you go to the old page, you see all of these items plus Commissioner Baker's statement, and various other items, all concisely and clearly presented.

        The new front page gives a separate entry for each statement. The effect is that on the new front page, all you see is links to five of the Commissioner statements. Even those have the titles truncated to the point of being incomprehensible.

        If you click on the newsroom link, it's not much better. Here you get ten items per page. 8 of them are individual links to the Commissioner statements, two are the news releases.

        Compared to the old page where the Notices, their news releases, and the Commissioners' statements would all be presented in about 1.5 inches of screen real estate each, here I would have to click through four or five full screens of results to see these three items.

        Do you see how less efficient and less user-friendly this is?

      • George Fosque commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        On a main bureau or main topic page, an area called "recent" or "News" needs to be added so a user who checks in with the page can quickly scroll down the list of items and see what has been posted of importance in reverse date order. Can't see this now on the Public Safety main page and thus one doesn't know if a topic in one of the three main areas (Inside.. Related... and Rulemaking) is new or old, or even when it was posted. Need to also post date that a topic was posted. Users of much of the FCC site are almost by definition reasonably knowledgeable and thus do not want to be presented with such a simple, BLOG-like interface...

      • world threat commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        function will be fine if the search tool is efficiently robust. Also, maybe a little more emphasis on it so these nay sayers can do what they think they need to do

      • Bad Stuff commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        So true - I cant find anything - where is ECFS? Where is CDBS? Phone book? Daily Digest? Its all buried now behind glitzy graphics. Just use the old version - it was working just fine - did anyone ever complain about it?

      • Content Strategist commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Many of the problems folks are mentioning with the organization of links on your menus can be solved with online card-sorting tools. If you haven't already, please try that approach.

      • FCC Employee commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The page looks nice although is a bit dark and hard to read. The drop down menus make no sense. I don't understand the differences between the subheadings under "Our Work." There should be a very clear "Contact Us" along the top with has the filing system, phone book, etc. It makes ZERO sense to have the Blog, Newsroom, and Events under "The FCC" - they should be there own category. "Business & Legal" should be two ENTIRELY DIFFERENT topics/headings. The topics under this heading are very confusing. Online filing should be very obvious and upfront - especially ECFS. And why is this not a "Tool"? "Official Documents" makes no sense - I don't understand the purpose of this heading or the content underneath. Overall the headings are not very intuitive or helpful for finding anything. This website makes it VERY hard for anyone conducting business with us to know where to go for anything.

      • Verdauga commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I like the color / visual bit, but one thing that INSTANTLY hits me is not being full page! The old FCC would spread to fit my window so I could see more, the new FCC is limited to a block down the middle. This is a very popular, and very bad design. Search is horrible as well, I searched for amateur and nowhere in the top list was the Amateur Radio department. I think most people visiting the FCC website are interested in finding things, not looking at a pretty page.

      • Biff LeVee commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Pretty but not very usable. Glitzy graphics, video, etc. win out over content. Web users want to read Web pages, which are far easier to use than other formats. Yes, PDFs etc. can have links, but even then aren't great. Web pages are the gold standard for accessibility...where is the accessible version (and please don't say the ascii text version!)?

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The new website, while it cleans up the current site, is not as useful in trying to get where you need to be to transact business with FCC. Where is USL, Daily Digest, Auctions, Forms, etc.? Could the FCC simply keep what it has and use the same font, color, etc. from the beta site?

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I'm curious to hear some specific examples of how the new design is easier to use. I don't see it myself, but maybe I'm missing something. Anybody??

      • Chris commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I love the civil discussion here. I've been reading the responses in this thread in email since I posted my response, and I think Rick M.'s is the most succinct.

        To him I pose a question: If you needed to click a few more times to get to what was once displayed in a plain list on the front page in order to attract more public attention and understanding of very important current issues? I have been in your positions before, but there is payoff for society in the long run.

      • Rick M commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The new design is spot on, but layout works is required for the people who actually use fcc.gov. Keep iterating!

      • David S. commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Surely there's a way to look jazzier but retain the valuable content and convenience of the current page. The news release section should include the complete one sentence descriptions, with each of the relevant links, as it does now, and should begin closer to the top without scrolling down. It should be easier to get to the five functions across the top of the existing page and the key links along the right hand column of the existing page. Drop down menus are clunky and difficult to use.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I agree that the new FCC.gov website elevates style over substance. At first glance, it looks "pretty" but when you try to use the new website, you quickly discover that it's much more difficult to navigate and find things. For example, the old website has a link on the main page for "Rules and Regulations," that takes you to the e-CFR. I spent more than 10 minutes trying to find such a link on the new website and finally gave up and went back to the old version. I also think it would be very helpful to include more substantive subheadings under the four main headings.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I see four main areas the front page should cover: (1) about the FCC (organization, key personnel, how to contact, etc.), (2) current news, (3) online resources (submitting applications, complaints, etc. & researching actions, databases, etc.) & (4) general search. The front page can be clean & graphics-heavy, but one click into any of the first three areas should lead immediately to the most frequently used options (e.g., browsing the Daily Digest, filing an application in ULS, searching EDOCS, ECFS or license databases, etc.) & intuitively to the full range of resources. The search function should complement the other three areas.

        The problem with the new look isn't just that it's different. It's that it's not intuitively organized so users can get to the information & tools they want.

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