Advice for President Obama on Keeping the Faith!
Max’s advice for February 20, 2009
Dear President Obama,
Max grew up as the son of a man who knew ‘ALL’ the answers to the problems of the world. Max’s father said so! Many times, his father let everyone know that anyone who didn’t know that he had the answers was a turkey or a knucklehead.
The famous Ma Bell, the second most powerful force in the world (next to God of course), thought so much of Max’s father’s opinions, that she made him ‘Supervisor of Troubles’. This is true!
The advice Max promised you, President Obama.
Keep your promises on transaparency!
Max has reviewed the Obama White House website called recovery.gov and found it to be a fairly good site. It is a site that is well designed to do what it is portayed as doing. It is a site that is mechanically sound (it doesn’t do any strange things) and humanly rational (most people will understand it without too much difficulty).
The promise you have made was to report back in a transparent manner to the people of the United States by using this site. To this point, recovery.gov is on the mark.
There are, as with all websites, a few minor things your technical aides could do to improve it.
Use a separate page for all tabs where the user would be required to exit this web page. Currently tabs are inconsistent in how they do this.
On the home page the “Read the bill” bullet takes a viewer out of the site. Though a simple return tab will restore the user to the site, many users will be unaware of this.
On the home page the “Initial implementation memorandum” opens a separate window. This is inconsistent with the prior click results.
On the home page the 60 page “detailed guidance memorandum” opens a PDF on the same page. This is inconsistent with to two prior click approaches.
The ‘About’ page is highly consistent in the presentation of information. Each tab on the page goes to information on the site without taking the user elsewhere. One page it takes you to is the page where 1b and 1c apply.
Announcements and FAQS have some of the inconsistencies of the home page.
The site itself appears pretty clean as websites go. Max, having worked in the industry, has seen more than his share. The inconsistencies in the web site should be taken care of early on so that it doesn’t damage the recovery effort.
Max would open external sites and documents in a separate window. This is not the only way to make a site consistent. Your technical people may have a better approach.
Having a website of your own is like having a suit. If it looks trendy and clean people will get a good impression before they can even see the color of your eyes. If it looks dated and mildewed they will not get close enough to see your eyes. They won’t want to.
This is your website so you should have a talk with your OMB person on keeping it simple.
The 60 page technical memo should, if possible, be rendered so that the document can be indexed and read one page at a time. It is a very technical document and will not read well on all screens that people use to view these things. Though Max thinks the document could be rendered better for readability, he also wants you to know that the document is well structured and put together for its implementation purpose. It is the right kind of memo; it may just be difficult for the public to read as presented.
Max thinks you have an excellent beginning on keeping yourself, your government and all the governmental units involved in the recovery honest. This may go a long way with keeping the faith with the voters who gave you this opportunity.
Max wishes you well in all your efforts at transparency.
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Link one is to the recovery.gov home page.
Link two is to the money allocation by type of stimulus.
Link three is to the number of jobs by state that can be created.