This exchange stuck with me long after my time as an overseas scholar and into my current studies of public relations at Grant MacEwan University. Recently, though, I've become very much interested in another aspect of countries' PR armamentarium, namely their websites. Government websites essentially serve two basic purposes - to help deliver information to their own citizens both within the country and abroad and to serve as cyber-embassies to the world. Like embassy collateral marketing, a great national web presences makes a great impression. A crappy one does the opposite.
|O hai. I can has usability.|
How does Canada measure up in terms of web design? In typical form, it's a pretty middle-of-the-road affair. Usability-wise, the Government of Canada's official website is pretty intuitive and user-friendly. However, there's certainly no sex appeal to it. (See my November 3 post entitled 'Gross National Sexy', which addresses this issue.) There's no real flavour or style to it, anything you could really call distinctively 'Canadian'. As for the Government of Alberta's official web portal, the site works fine but its incessant adulation of the oil sands starts to get pretty tiresome.
On the flipside, the best government websites seem to come from middle-income countries eager to bolster their reputations (much like Kenya) or countries otherwise sensitive to their international image.
Here are five of the very worst:
And five of the best:
3. Costa Rica