According to a new study reported in bizEDGE’s blog, New Zealand government agency websites fall short of readability goals.
This suggests that our government agencies are not delivering the Better Public Services Result 10 objective: ‘New Zealanders can complete their transactions with government easily in a digital environment’. To achieve the online ‘one stop shop’ government agencies aim for, their websites’ readability, usability, and accessibility must improve. We have a democratic right to expect this.
Studies suggest that people understand less when they read online. Added to this, when we use government websites, it’s often to do something complex. And when the task involves our relationships, health, or money, for example, we’re worried and stressed too, which reduces literacy further.
The International Adult Literacy Survey says that about two-fifths of New Zealanders have low literacy, about two-fifths of New Zealanders have moderate to good literacy, and about one-fifth have a high level of literacy. The statistics are the same in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
It’s the most literate one-fifth who usually do writing tasks, especially when the stakes are high. Our writers have a duty to remove the barriers to online readability so that we can truly see accessible, readable, usable websites where all New Zealanders can transact with government agencies with ease.