The average adult in the United States reads at a 7th grade reading level. Yet, all but a relative handful of government websites are written above the 7th grade reading level. In fact, more than half (64%) of government websites are written at the 12th-grade reading level or higher.
Sounds like some of those websites just go over the heads of the public they serve.
These statistics on website reading levels come from the The Brookings Institution, which analyzed 1,537 state and federal government websites. The Brookings Institution’s recent report on Governance Studies looked at a variety of factors to assess state and Federal websites.
The report, which updates from data collected in previous years, shows progress. For one thing, it’s possible to see from the report that each year the state and Federal government websites keep adding functionality and getting more ”finished” and sophisticated. However despite the progress, government websites have a ways to go.
Here are some of the more interesting findings:
- It seems even the government can’t get away from the ubiquity of ads. Two percent (2%) of government websites carry ads or paid sponsorships, up from 1% last year.
- Government websites are on their way to becoming profit centers — or at least deferring costs. Seven percent (7%) of government websites charge user fees.
- You can conduct more transactions with your government online. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of state and federal websites have services that are fully executable online, compared with 86 percent in 2007.
- Government websites are going mobile. Three percent (3%) of government websites are accessible through personal digital assistants (PDAs), pagers or mobile phones, up from 1 percent last year.
- Government websites are embracing multimedia, incorporating audio or video clips. Forty-one percent (41%) provide podcasts or audio clips (up from 24% in 2007). And 48% offer video clips (up from 35% last year).