Usability in Government Systems

User Experience Design for Citizens and Public Servants

Edited by

  • Elizabeth Buie, Principal Consultant, Luminanze Consulting, LLC, Silver Spring MD, USA
  • Dianne Murray, HCI / Usability Consultant and General Editor, Interacting with Computers, Elsevier , Teddington, UK

As a usability specialist or interaction designer working with the government, or as a government or contractor professional involved in specifying, procuring, or managing system development, you need this book. Editors Elizabeth Buie and Dianne Murray have brought together over 30 experts to outline practical advice to both usability specialists and government technology professionals and managers.

Working with internal and external government systems is a unique and difficult task because of of the sheer magnitude of the audience for external systems (the entire population of a country, and sometimes more), and because of the need to achieve government transparency while protecting citizens’ privacy.. Open government, plain language, accessibility, biometrics, service design, internal vs. external systems, and cross-cultural issues, as well as working with the government, are all covered in this book.

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Usability/UX specialists and interaction designers working with the government; government and contractor professionals involved in specifying, procuring, or managing system developments.


Book information

  • Published: May 2012
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-391063-9


"Elizabeth Buie and Dianne Murray have pulled together a book that is long overdue…Usability specialists in government environments should get this book."--Technical Communication, May 2013
"Given the effort being made by governments worldwide to shift users onto the theoretically cheaper digital channels, this book makes a welcome appearance…It has a wealth of useful references and links, so could benefit a group of developers but overall, as Sanford and Doulton recognise, real usability comes end-to-end and it’s the policy instigators that introduce poor user experiences.", December 2012
"These engaging stories from UX pros in governments worldwide will inform and inspire anyone who's switched on by improving the customer experience of digital government. Here’s the history and a candid look at what we face in making online government services useful, usable, and accessible."--Nicole Burton, User Experience Evangelist, U.S. General Services Administration, Manager, First Fridays Product Testing Program
"Those of us who work on the design, development, or management of government websites or systems have had a gap on our bookshelves that has needed filling for government focused UX. This book fills that gap with global expertise with breadth and depth from proven experts from a good mix of academic and practitioner insights. This book, once read, will be kept with easy reach for reference sharing the richness of knowledge with others to improve the systems and services government provides for use."--Thomas Vander Wal, InfoCloud Solutions
"Written and edited by respected names in usability from industry and academia around the world, this comprehensive and focused book belongs on the shelf of everyone involved in the development of government software systems of any kind from public facing web sites to military and emergency response systems."--Deborah J. Mayhew, Deborah J. Mayhew & Associates
"This is a very well researched and documented work that is imbued with wonderful storytelling. It goes to the heart of the changes and demands affecting governments across the globe due to implementing e-government and Gov 2.0. Elizabeth and Dianne did a wonderful job in chronicling this modern day revolution."--Alan W. Silberberg, founding CEO of Silberberg Innovations, and Gov20LA
"Usability in Government Systems makes an important contribution to a field that deserves more attention.  We must ensure that government is easily accessible and understandable for all Americans."--Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD-08)
"Usability and systems professionals in public service will benefit from the wisdom and insights presented in this book. Following this advice will undoubtedly increase the value contributed by user experience design in the government systems and services value chain."--Computing Reviews, November 2012

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: A Brief History of User Experience in Government Systems

PART I: Public-facing Systems


Chapter 2: Usability of Public Web Sites

Chapter 3: Usability and Government 2.0

Chapter 4: UX of Transactions

Chapter 5: Privacy and the Citizen

PART II: Internal Systems


Chapter 6: Usability in Defense Systems

Chapter 7: Emergency Response in Simulated Terrorist Attacks

Chapter 8: National Critical Infrastructures

Chapter 9: Legislative Drafting Systems

PART III: UX Issues Common to Both Public and Internal Systems


Chapter 10: Content Strategy

Chapter 11: Plain Language in Government

Chapter 12: Ensuring Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Chapter 13: Mobile Access

Chapter 14: User Issues in Security

Chapter 15: Usability of Biometric Systems

PART IV: Procurement and Development


Chapter 16: Getting UX into the Contract

Chapter 17: ISO Standards for User-Centered Design and the Specification of Usability

Chapter 18: User-centered Requirements Definition

Chapter 19: Models as Representations for Supporting the

Development of e-Procedures

Chapter 20: Evaluation in Government Environments

Chapter 21: Adapting e-Gov Usability Evaluation to Cultural Contexts

PART V: Wider Considerations


Chapter 22: Design for Policymaking

Chapter 23: Service Design and Channel Shifting

Chapter 24: UX and e-Democracy in Asia

Closing Thoughts

Resources, Glossary & Acronyms