The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2004-07-23T15:18:00Z Hiser undertakes usability evaluation study of Australian political web sites reveals no clear leader 2004-07-23T15:18:00Z hiser-undertakes-usability-evaluation-study-of-australian-political-web-sites-reveals-no-clear-leader With the federal election looming, the latest study by interface usability experts, The Hiser Group, reveals that Australias six political web sites need to seriously rethink how they present their information, as voters become more web savvy and demanding. In an era where all government agencies and parties actively promote the use of the interrnet as a key medium to delivering government information and services, how well are our Australian political parties practising what they preach? The six major political party web sites (Australian Democrats, Australian Greens, Australian Labour Party, Liberal Party of Australia, The Nationals and One Nation) were evaluated by The Hiser Group with regard to the usefulness and usability of each site. Though political party web sites are rarely the sole factor driving voters preferences, these sites do play an important role in filling in some of the gaps in loyal voters and more importantly in swinging voters minds, said The Hiser Groups Managing Director, Susan Wolfe. These sites should be tailored to assist people better understand the particular parties. Currently all, except the Labour party, and only marginally, are letting these swinging voters down which translates to losing an opportunity to gain another vote for them. The research was undertaken in March and April 2004. The Hiser Groups report summarises the findings based on the experiences of swinging voters as they explored the various sites in their search for information to assist them in understanding what each party was offering. Wolfe believes that political party sites offer a simple way for the different parties to articulate their platforms and demonstrate their commitment to the delivery of citizen-centric services. But, disappointingly, the six sites failed to comply with basic usability guidelines and good practice. The sites often made it hard for users to find policies on particular topics due to poor information design, such as structure and labeling, and poor interaction and visual design, where it was unclear where links were taking the user. The independent study also revealed that several of the sites are inaccessible to blind users who typically access sites via text-to-speech screen readers. This failure to comply with W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] and Australian guidelines is in direct conflict with the governments stated obligation to provide information and services to all users, said Wolfe. Wolfe said that their study clearly showed that all political parties need to improve the experience of those that venture on to their web sites in order to engage them in a positive and rewarding manner. Voting is compulsory for everyone and we are all increasingly going to the web to assist in making more informed decisions, said Wolfe. The research shows clearly that all political parties need to improve their usability, usefulness and accessibility to those entering their sites. The user experience needs to be positive from the outset. It is the swinging voters that are likely to visit the various sites prior to making their voting decision. Ms Wolfe concluded, While parties are not currently serving to address the needs of the voting community, theres ample opportunity for one party to demonstrate leadership and provide a good experience to attract swinging voters. It will be interesting to see which political party will take up the challenge! The Usability Evaluation of Australian Political Party Web Sites report is available on request. About The Hiser Group The Hiser Group has been specialising in the design of interactive systems and interfaces since 1991 and has been involved in over 1,200 projects in a range of interfaces, from character-based systems to the latest web technologies. Hiser interfaces appear in all industry sectors including finance, utilities, IT, manufacturing and government. The Hiser Group develops strategies to achieve client short and long-term objectives and create effective and engaging interfaces that enhance customer interaction and change business results. Areas of expertise include interactive services strategic planning, user interface design (web-based, GUI, kiosk, paper, etc), customer experience design, expert evaluation and usability testing of interactive systems. Additionally, The Hiser Group teaches industry professionals the secret to designing easy-to-use interfaces through public and in-house courses based on the principles of user-centred design, ensuring a balance between user and business requirements. The company offers a variety of products and services, ranging from formal training workshops, to mentoring programs, to licensing of its methodology in The Hiser Element Toolkit. The Hiser Group clients include the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Macquarie Bank, Telstra and Westpac. For more information about The Hiser Group, visit the company's website at