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Government underscores importance of website usability

Updated: Dec 1,2014 4:58 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — The State Council orders all government departments to make their websites more interactive and efficient.

In a document published on Dec 1, the State Council underlined the need for official websites to be streamlined and made user friendly.

Government agencies were urged to speed up response to opinions, complaints and proposals submitted by the public, and to do so within seven to 15 days, depending on the importance of the complaint.

Up-to-date information and transparency were also emphasized.

In addition, governments were encouraged to engage with the public through social media, such as microblogs, and messaging services, such as WeChat, and to work closely with media outlets.

Government websites should also consider translation options, should there be adequate technical support, the document said.

To pool resources and improve efficiency, county and township governments, the two grassroots administrative levels in China, should merge with larger government departments.

The document also said that these websites would be subject to assessment.

Chinese authorities have been increasingly more active online since the central government “went online” in 2006.

According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, there were about 30,000 government websites — defined by having domains ending with gov.cn — in 2010. All central government departments and provincial governments have their own websites as do 98.5 percent of city governments and about 85 percent of county governments.

Also, verified government accounts on the four top online platforms in China — Sina, Tencent, People.com.cn and Xinhuanet — totaled about 258,700 by the end of 2013. However, complaints about government websites and online accounts continued.

The State Council admitted in the document on Dec 1 that too many government websites presented out-of-date information and appeared “numb” to public petitions.

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