The Online Democracy Award recognizes the following state legislative websites that stand out for making democracy user-friendly.
The Minnesota legislature's website was recognized for its “humongous” amount of content, which is organized and structured in a very user-friendly manner, according to the selection committee. The site designers did a great job focusing on members, bill search and statutes. “Considering how much information is on it, the website is almost deceptively simple while still being polished—but not overly fancy for fancy’s sake,” the committee said. “It’s really commendable.”
North Carolina General Assembly
The North Carolina legislature's website was recognized for making excellent use of the space on its homepage, with a “high value of content per square inch,” according to the selection committee. The website features handy icons leading to a wealth of information, with everything “just a click away.” The committee was especially impressed by the House and Senate dashboards for their easy and intuitive access to everything users would want to know about each chamber’s activities, including live audio from the floor. View the NCSL press release.
The Massachusetts Legislature's website was honored for staying current with an impressive design and welcoming look and feel. The site’s graphically pleasing budget tracking feature makes the budget process easy to understand and transparent. The selection committee also praised how the site highlights the most popular laws and bills and generates a list of bills that are similar to one another. Other noteworthy attributes included the website’s accessibility to those with disabilities and the “My Legislature” feature, which encourages citizens to explore the site and follow specific bills, hearings and legislators. View the NCSL press release.
The judges selected the Alaska Legislature’s website for its basic but clean and comprehensive interface designed to reach a population that is spread out geographically. The site was recognized for providing everything citizens need at their fingertips, including easy access to legislative actions and legislators’ photos and biographies. The selection committee was particularly impressed by the site’s live chat function, which pops up on the home page, allowing citizens to interact directly and immediately with legislative staff. View the NCSL press release.
New York State Senate
The New York Senate site was selected for its user-friendly design, attractive and easy-to-understand graphics, and a prominent calendar highlighting statewide activities. The site's encouragement of public interaction through a bill comment feature was also a winning element. The site also was commended for straightforward search capabilities and intuitive navigation that facilitates the public's access to the legislature. View the NCSL press release
Tennessee General Assembly
The Tennessee site was praised for its inviting, warm and welcoming qualities, essential for engaging citizens. The site also was recognized for a consistent design, fresh content but easy to access past information, and other qualities. View the NCSL press release.
Utah State Legislature
The Utah State Legislature's website, “an information powerhouse,” won over the panel of judges with its simple interface and intuitive navigation that facilitates the public’s access to the Legislature. View the NCSL press release.
The Massachusetts Legislature's website was honored for outstanding achievement in using design, content and technology to bring democracy closer to the citizens of Massachusetts. The selection committee noted the site’s elegant and attractive design, excellent search functionality and bill tracking feature, useful civic and educational information, and transparent budget information.
The Hawaii Legislature's website won the 2012 Online Democracy Award. The judges were impressed by the website’s consistent, clean and attractive layout; simple navigation, extensive information and good search capability; extensive educational and jargon-free resources; features that invite citizen involvement; easy-to-find links to calendars, caucus sites, and committee hearings. View the NCSL press release.
The Florida Senate took home the 2011 Online Democracy Award for providing a simple, clean and fresh design, easy navigation, and a wealth of information for constituents and the public. Some of the other notable winning features of the website include a bill tracking feature,detailed background and contact information on each legislator, educational materials, use of social media widgets and RSS feeds. This is the first time a legislative chamber has been awarded this national honor. The press release provides additional details.
The Washington Legislature's website was recognized for providing extensive information that is easy to find and understand. The website's notable features include excellent search functionality, detailed explanations on web pages about available functions and features, Spanish language translations and printer-friendly versions of web pages. The site also was designed to be universally accessible and includes prominent ADA information. See the award description and NCSL press release.
Tennessee General Assembly
Tennessee's website stood out for its ease of navigation, depth of content and openness, and availability of information to the public. Key features of Tennessee's website that contributed to this year's award include: prominent educational resources; well-organized information; a simple, fresh design; integration of archived streaming video clips with agendas and bill information. See the award description and press release.
The Texas Legislature's website was honored for its wealth of information on the members’ pages, search capabilities, streaming video and audio services and an outreach to kids. In addition, this site is easy to navigate, making it friendly to the novice user and valuable for the experienced user. See the NCSL press release.
New Jersey Legislature
New Jersey's website stood out for its ease of navigation, depth of content and openness and availability of information for the public.
Minnesota's website was recognized for its ease of navigation, advanced searchability and multitude of content.
Utah State Legislature
The Utah State Legislature was honored for its outstanding achievement in using design, content and technology to bring democracy closer to the citizens of Utah. The selection committee specifically noted the site's use of RSS feeds and its audio and video technologies.