Pew Internet has published a report – Information Searches That Solve Problems. They participated in running a survey to identify ¨How people use the Internet, libraries and government agencies when they need help¨

Although the survey is US-focused, the results should be of interest to all government agencies. You can view the report and the survey results (PDFs). Unsurprisingly, the Internet topped the list of sources people go to when looking for information. Equally unsurprisingly, the preferred source depends on the type of query to be answered:

¨People have different preferences for dealing with government, depending on the issue they face. They prefer to use the internet for information queries, but they want to use the phone or face-to-face visits to address more personal matters.¨

It’s not a surprise but the need to provide different options in different contexts can often be ignored in the drive to modernise government and make services available on the Internet. I recently reviewed the web site for a government agency. Whilst it did a great job of providing answers to information queries, it ignored the next step. Answers that recommended seeking a professional opinion offered no help with how to find that opinion. Ironically, the required information was available on the site, complete with map plug-in to localise results. But that information was accessed through a different search mechanism. The simple solution: connect the two queries.

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