Guidelines for managing websites developed for Government of India
The internet revolution is here to stay. No other phenomenon in the history has brought about such an unprecedented technological boom as that of Internet and the World Wide Web. The major growth of Internet has occurred within in last ten years only. Sources state that today nearly 2000 new users get on to the Internet every month. Individuals and organizations all across the globe are competing with each other for establishing an effective presence on the Internet. Also, the Governments of various Countries are realising the importance of carving out a niche for themselves on the Global Medium of Internet. Since the World Wide Web has proved its potential as a powerful means of disseminating information, it is being realized all over the world that this medium can be utilized, in an extremely effective way, to make people aware of government policies and programmes and solicit their active and direct contribution to the process of governance. It is here that is the importance of having good government web sites comes into light.
What consititutes a ‘Good’ Government Web Site?
Although the look and style of every website depends on the nature of the content it carries, there are certain common ingredients which go on to make a good government web site. They include the following.
1. Authenticity of Information
There is certain level of trust imposed on a government web site by the visitors who expect the web site to be reliable and authentic source of official government information. Therefore it is vital that every word which appears in government web site has been duly verified by the appropriate authorities in the Ministry/ Department to which the web site belongs.
2. Citizen Friendly Interface
Information on government policies and programmes can be quite voluminous in nature. Hence it is important for the web site to have a well defined structure so that the visitor can easily find the information he/she is looking for. Also, its imperative to make sure that the language of the content on the website is simple and easy to understand. As far as possible, a bi-lingual version of the site (Hindi and English) should be developed. Multimedia features (audio/video) can also be used to enrich the web site further enabling it to make a good impact on the visitors.
3. Up-to-date Information
Even a perfectly designed website can turn out to be a disappointment for the visitors if the information on the website is not regularly updated. Since a web site is the reflection of the organization before the audience, they expect to get the latest and uptodate information about the activities, events, schemes, programmes etc. from its web site before they see it in the Press or elsewhere. Therefore, its imperative that the information on the website is always latest and up-to-date, and whenever any new activity takes place in a Ministry, the news/information gets reflected on the website at least simultaneously, if not earlier than it appears in the Press . The procedure to be followed for updation of the web site is suggested later in the document.
4. Accountability towards the Visitors
Just as any Government’s foremost duty is to be accountable towards the citizens, its extremely important for a Govt. website to be accountable to the visitors. In other words, its imperative that the queries, suggestions and grievances of the people submitted through the web site are carefully attended to and a prompt response mechanism is in place.
Government Web Site Structure – the necessary ingredients
Though the structure of a website essentially emanates from the nature of the activites that the concerned Ministry/Department carries out, there are certain necessary information elements which are important to be present in a comprehensive Government web site
About the Ministry/Department
Role and Functions
Major projects and Schemes
Public Services (if any)
Press Releases / Announcements
Messages from the Minister/Secretary
Contact Addresses/Tel No/ Email of the Senior Officers and Important Functionaries of the Ministry/Department
Guidelines for Updating the Web Sites
As mentioned earlier in the Document, it is vital to sustain a web site after it is launched by keeping the information on it up-to-date and by regularly adding on more and more new information to it. The following guidelines have to be borne in mind while updating the sites:
- Due to the sensitive nature of the Government information, it is imperative that the information put on the official web sites is authentic and accurate. Therefore, the identification of the content to be updated has to be handled by the Ministry/Department themselves. For this purpose, it is proposed that a proper updation plan is worked out in the Ministry which delegates the task of providing timely updations to various Divisions/Departments. Any modifications/changes in the information about the Ministry has to be reflected on the web site in the minimum possible time. Moreover, it has to be ensured that if any new Tenders/Notices are released by the Ministry to the Press, a copy is sent for uploading on the web site at the same time.
- In most of the Ministries/Departments, NIC has placed its own officers who are looking after the overall IT requirements of the respective Deptt/Ministry. Once the Ministry/Department identifies the text to be updated, the same should be handed over to the concerned NIC Officer in the digital form (as per the requirement of the respective website) so that it gets uploaded on the web site.
- The NIC co-ordinating officer, will in turn, ensure that the updations are carried out 3without any delay and would inform the concerned authorities once the updations are carried out on the web site.
- The Ministry/Department should then adequately verify that all the updations have been carried out as desired and the web site is in proper order.
- It is advised that Ministry/Department must visit the respective website from time to time to ensure the uptodateness of the content.
Promote your web site : Some useful tips
The entire effort of launching a web site bears fruit only when it is visited by its target audience in large numbers. And for that, it is extremely important to ensure that the desired audience get to know about the site and can access it easily. Here comes the importance of publicizing and popularising the web site. Some useful tips in this regard include the following :
- The web site should be registered with as many search engines/directories as possible, under appropriate categories. As a part of its services, NIC registers the web sites hosted on its web servers with 5-6 major search engines and also with the India Image web site and the GOI Directory being maintained by NIC itself at http://goidirectory.nic.in. Apart from the above, efforts can be made to register the web site with as many other search engines as possible. Please note that registering a web site with search engines is a free of cost activity and does not require any user authentication.The Ministry/Department can also ask their co-ordinating NIC officer to assist them in registering the web site with as many search engines/directories as they can.
- The Associated/Attached Offices under a Ministry/Department which have their individual web sites can be requested to provide a link to the official web site of the Ministry/Department from their Home Page.
- At the launch of the web site, it has to be made sure that the URL appears correctly in the Press release regarding the web site.
- All the stationery items such as Letterheads, Visitng Cards ; Publicity material such as Brochures, Pamphlets and documents such as the Annual Report should display the URL of the web site.
- All the advertisements/public messages issued in the Newspapers/Radio/ TV by the concerned Ministry/Department should mention the URL of the web site clearly so that it gets due publicity.
- All the Press Releases given out by the Ministry/Department should be immediately put on the web site. Infact, once the procedure is streamlined, the Press can be asked to pick up the Press Releases from the web site itself.