The results are in: the best state website in the country belongs to Michigan. So says a study released recently (and which unfortunately costs $250) of state, county, and city websites by the National Policy Research Council and Computerworld Magazine. Here’s a list of all the winners — the only Massachusetts site that made the list was Cambridge’s, which did well among cities with population of 50,001-250,000. And here are some excerpts from the article describing why Michigan won:
At Michigan.gov, citizens can find licensed day-care providers, reserve a campsite, renew licenses and get alerts about road closures delivered to their wireless devices…. Michigan has made nearly 300 online services available on its Web site, and they’re heavily used… Some of Michigan’s newest services include RSS feeds, streaming video of education board meetings and the ability to download the governor’s weekly radio address to iPods, said Mike Shanahan, director of the IT department’s e-Michigan Web development division, which has 15 staffers…. A common theme among governments with top-ranked sites was a penchant for listening to what local citizens and businesses want via online surveys and comment fields. Citizen suggestions led Michigan to make its site bilingual and provide a text-only version for people with disabilities, Hogan said. According to McArthur, one problem with many government Web sites is that they’re organized by department, whereas most users want to accomplish a task – like paying a water bill – without necessarily knowing which department is involved. “The best Web sites offered on the home page a menu of all government services regardless of department,” he said.
Go to it: what do they got that we ain’t got?