The Usability of Government Websites

A literature review



January to March 2023 (6 weeks)


Solo project for Advanced Engineering Psychology class.

Skills & Tools

  • Finding, reading, and analyzing scholarly articles
  • APA formatting and citation


  • 20-page literature review
  • 10-minute presentation
  • 10-page comparison report

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Government websites are notoriously difficult to use

Although government websites are used for critical services and information like filing taxes, applying for healthcare benefits, and more, these websites are notoriously frustrating to use. 

The goal of my literature review was to find the most common usability issues in U.S. government websites and the root causes of poor usability. 


Pulling together the literature

I aimed to put authors in conversation with each other and find gaps in the literature. Read the final literature review and watch my final presentation below.


The importance of universal design 

The final assignment for the class was to compare and contrast my literature review with two of my classmates. The common theme that emerged from the three papers is the importance of universal design.


A lack of quality research on government websites

Not all usability evaluation methods are created equal. Many of the studies used a usability checklist of specific items which became quickly outdated over the years. Studies that assessed the websites against broad heuristics and averaged across multiple expert evaluators had much better results. 

There is a lack of research on the root causes of government websites’ poor usability. Across the literature, the authors had backgrounds in fields other than UX and human factors, which limited the credibility of the results. 

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