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Holy Cow! Our Government Has at Least One Great, Working Website

By William Peacock, Esq. on February 06, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

So there I am. It was dark, cold, and rainy (outside). It was me, my keyboard, and writer's block.

Then I stumbled upon an NLRB rule change announcement and decided to do my job and dig up the actual text of the rule change in the Federal Register.

Holy hell, have you actually used the Federal Register's website? We give our dear government a lot of crap for funding websites that don't actually work, but at least in this one instance, there is actually a government website that (a) works (b) looks good and (c) is absolutely freaking fantastic.

Why Do I Love It?

Here is the rule I looked up. No, unless you are really into unionization procedures and the NLRB, it's probably not worth reading. But look at that site. You've got a clean, intuitive user interface, the official seal is used to great effect as a faded background and logo, and despite the mass of information and options, the site doesn't feel crowded.

It's not just pretty either. It's functional. Here are some of the notable features:

  • You can link directly to a single paragraph on the page;
  • If you hover over a paragraph of the rule text, a little ribbon icon appears on the right;
  • From the ribbon, you can get the paragraph citation, official Federal Register page number, and if for some unimaginable reason you have the desire to tweet about a paragraph of the Federal Register, there's a link for that too.
  • On the right sidebar, the standard font controls, PDF and Print options, and more are all easy to locate.
  • There's also a clipboard feature for saving pages for later.

The site even works on mobile. To get the ribbon, you just tap the paragraph. Seriously folks, well done. The only criticism that I can think of is that the site is a bit slow.

Why Am I Obsessing Over a Webpage?

Have you been to an Article III court website lately? Check out the Sixth Circuit's page, and one of their cases [PDF]. It's ugly and crowded. The only thing nice one could say about it is that it is utilitarian. You can read cases and find announcements. Whoopee!

Ditto for pretty much every other circuit court website. They're all ugly and functional.

Imagine case law presented on the Federal Register's web platform. Paragraph-by-paragraph citation, with official page numbers? Tweeting judicial snark and bench-slappings, with links to the actual paragraph? How much easier would that make my life, and other court followers' lives?

Know any other government websites that are a design revelation? Tweet us @FindLawLP.

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