IT & Networks

More people are using federal websites; and more hate them

More Americans than ever are interacting with the government online. Yet experiences with the federal websites are getting worse, according to a study by the Forrester consultancy.

Fully 44 percent of customers used a federal website in 2016. “That’s 14 percentage points more than in-person interactions, which garner the second-highest number of visitors among all channels, and 26 percentage points more than email, the second-most-popular digital channel,” Forrester noted.

But less than 60 percent of users found those sites to be satisfactory based on several metrics assessed by Forrester, such as ease of use, relevancy of information and security. “The number of customers who consider federal websites easy to use fell four percentage points, from 59 percent down to 55 percent,” Forrester found. “Users’ perceptions of the safety and security of federal websites dropped by five percentage points, from 65 percent to 60 percent.”

Security is also an issue. Of five popular federal websites examined by Forrester, two allow users to change their user IDs without hindrance, and three allow users to change their user names without verification. “These are insecure ways to add superficial ease to experiences,” Forrester added. “Instead, federal websites should provide more security education, for example, to make users feel safe and informed.”

SSA.gov and Studentloans.gov drew high marks for security, but USPS.com and eBenefits.va.gov exhibited flaws such as insufficient authentication.

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