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What makes a great website? Challenge finds out from the experts.

The inaugural Singapore Government Web Excellence Awards were presented in June this year to agencies whose websites won top marks for user-friendliness, content presentation, overall website management and effective delivery of electronic services.

In addition to a panel of judges, the Web Excellence Awards included public voting as a key scoring component. More than 26,000 votes were cast for their favourite agency websites.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) won one of the three Outstanding Awards for its ONE.MOTORING portal at www.onemotoring.com.sg.


Challenge asked website experts from Digital Boomerang, XM Asia and Qais Consulting for their take on the portal and how government websites, in general, can be even more engaging. The three have worked with government agencies such as the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, the Economic Development Board and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to design and/or revamp their websites.

Which feature of the ONE.MOTORING website is your favourite? How does it enhance the website?

LTA e-services

I was surprised to discover that LTA e-Services had easy access to all the critical functions that motorists intuitively need. I especially like the way ‘non-login’ LTA e-Services was organised, based on user types – ‘car owners’ and ‘aspiring car owners’.

The above features position onemotoring.sg as the gateway to all things related to car ownership and road users. It is an aggregator of useful, relevant and usable content.
– Vince Lui, XM Asia (XMA)

Traffic cam era

It’s great because both (the camera and traffic news) offer close to real-time information. It solves my problems, for example, how to get from point A to point B without getting caught in traffic.
– Charlotte Ong, Digital Boomerang (DB)

Updates of COE prices

The specific page that provides live updates to current COE bids is almost like a stock market chart. The COE prices updated ‘live’ show great transparency by the government, while making sure potential buyers have managed the ‘right’ bid.
– Tripti Lochan, Qais Consulting (QC)

What is the most important feature of a good government website?

Credible source of information

DB > Government websites are authoritative and credible sources of information. I think that accurate and up-to-date content that solves users’ real-life problems is most important for government websites.


QC > It has to be easy to find in terms of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), easy to understand (good navigation), easy to work (intuitive), open to all ages and groups (content that appeals to all races and uses) and convenient (users can access this site from any place on any device including on mobile phones).

Tailored services

XMA > A good government website should provide e-services and information tailored to different target audiences. When users land on the website, they should be able to immediately identify the journey required in order to get to the desired service or information.

What can government agencies do to improve their websites?

Understand users

DB > Find out who your web users are and the problems that they have. Then you can create content and eServices/ applications that solve their problems without creating new ones. Once you have the killer content or application, you can cross-sell or promote other government messages.

Make it easier

XMA > Understand target users, develop effective information architecture and explore other ways to present text-heavy information.

Optimise and standardise

QC >Technically and creatively ensure the platform can deliver a site that is optimised for search. If we cannot find it, we cannot use it. Also, ensure the process, interface and customer experience online is as consistent as possible with one another.

What are some of the features that can draw more people to a government website?

Killer apps

DB > Any feature that makes accurate, updated content (that solves users’ problems) more accessible will draw people to use a website. For instance, an app that helps you chart or visualise government statistics so you can assess the data quickly and make decisions.

Good design

XMA > A good government site should constantly strive to have a contemporary look and feel. With the increased popularity of devices such as the iPhone and iPad, people have become more sophisticated in terms of what they from user experience.

Gotta look good too

All three experts agree that user-friendliness and being aesthetically pleasing go hand-in-hand. “At the of the day, looking good and working good is the aim,” says Charlotte Ong of Digital Boomerang.

Tripti Lochan of Qais Consulting thinks that “one without the other suffers” as it is all about customer experience, which is determined by the visual experience (how something looks) and the content and user experience of the functional aspects of the website (how something works).

“Government sites don’t need to be boring and ugly,” she adds.

There is no need to bring out all the bells and whistles like Flash or large image files to make a site look good. “A website can have a clean and contemporary look and still provide good usability by using the right technology such as Ajax, advanced CSS and HTML5,” says Vince Lui of XM Asia.

“With a web platform such as an advanced content management system that tracks and profiles users and serves out relevant content – similar to Amazon.com’s – a website can still be both user-friendly and visually desirable.”

A Few Tips


  • Get to know users and non-users.
  • Conduct in-depth research to understand problems, questions, issues and tasks that users face while seeking information on government websites.
  • Provide tools, utilities and content that your users trust only you for.


  • Avoid shortcuts, especially by shoveling on content users can’t understand or don’t want to read.
  • Steer clear of being someone your audience won’t believe you are; keep it simple, don’t try to cover too much.
  • Try not to make your users think (too long). A well-designed website lets users instantly get what they want. A badly designed one creates confusion, leading to frustration.
    Nov 4, 2010
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