Last week I ran across this article on how Federal Websites are losing momentum in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
Sites that score high tend to be transactional (sign up for something) or about a single program (like the Medicare Prescriptions Drug Benefit program). This doesn't surprise me. For years, the most popular thing on Utah.gov has been the vehicle registration renewal site. People still stop me and thank me for it--even though I had nothing to do with it.
This is something many people building eGovernment sites don't always understand. They're still stuck in 1996 thinking that if they get a good site with nice graphics and good search people will be happy. The ACSI survey showed that people are generally satisfied in that area, meaning that it's going to be tough to do better by working on those areas alone.
People like transactional eGovernment sites because they relieve a specific pain point. Vehicle registration is a little thing that people really hate. They don't like leaving work to stand in line. Put it online and they don't have to. Now, most states have online vehicle registration, so that low-hanging fruit is gone, but there are plenty of government programs that have yet to be automated.
The problem is that transactional sites are hard. They often require legislation to correct small problems in the law the prevent something from going online, they have the usual problems of finding project money and time to build, and they need product managers to create services that are compelling, easy to use, and accomplish what people want.
Nevertheless, product-level, transactional Web-sites are the future of eGovernment. Governments will need to to adapt yet again.