Sunday, March 9, 2008

Why is the Minister's picture on the home page?

In the hey day of Government On-Line, most government departments became Web savvy enough to know that users do not want to see a picture of the Minister on the home page. It doesn't help them with the tasks that they came to the Web site to perform and it doesn't get them the information they need quickly. This is common sense and I have also seen the proof by analyzing Web metrics and search logs for numerous government departments. People are not searching for the Minister's name. People are not clicking on the Minister's name or the Minister's picture.

But now, under the Conservative government, pictures of Ministers are all the rage again. But why? Is it because the Conservative government isn't Web savvy and is making a big faux pas? Perhaps, but maybe not.

Usability expert Gerry McGovern conducted a study in 2007 that looked at how client-centric or organization-centric government Web sites in several countries were. Having the Minister's picture on the home page was one of the organization centric features, as is using the Web site to talk about your 5 year plan rather than using it to implement it.

Back to our current conservative government and their love of having the Minister's picture on the home page. Why are they doing it? I don't think it is just ignorance of client needs. There is more to it than that. People do not know the faces of the Conservative ministers. This is a new government with lots of new blood. There will be an election sometime soon, and they want more visibility for their core team.

We don't want to view advertisements when we're watching TV. And we don't want to see pictures of Ministers on government home pages. But if advertisers and the Conservative Party of Canada are trying to etch images into our minds, we aren't likely to be rid of either one any time soon.


Anonymous said...

What about the possibility that they will turn users off by posting photos - doesn't that work counter to their plan?

Re-Think said...

It does. But that is the risk with any type of advertising. The question becomes where the line is between delivery of government programs and political campaigning.