When you think of government websites in Pakistan, the images that come to mind are archaic templates that have not been updated in ages, provide little/no useful information and have poor design or user interface. That is certainly not the experience that government websites provide today – with dedicated technology and web-design cells, the information is up-to-date, plenty, and the designs are simple and easy to navigate.
There has been a strong movement for a shift towards e-governance from various quarters in the government – including the legislative branch as well as federal and provincial administrations. This includes providing easy access to the general public to the latest happenings in each government department, providing contact details and then providing access to databases for personalized information such as the “Case Status” check on the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s website.
Overload of Information
Examples of the kind of information available for the public interested in staying up-to-date is the live streaming service of Senate proceedings, transcripts of the debates, the country’s latest climate change policy, the bills passed in the parliament, who the President is meeting and the list goes on and on.
An example of the kind of information that is now publicly available and easily accessible is this document: a detailed transcript from a Senate debate – transcribed in both Urdu and English, even if the speaker shifts languages mid-sentence.
This doesn’t mean that everything and anything is available and up-to-date. For instance, Punjab Government’s website touts Transparency as one of the main sections of the website but the latest budget is not available,
There is potential for re-design and improvement in the user interface aesthetics. Take the Sports Board website for instance – even though the website has photos, a live feed from its Facebook page and up-to-date information, the font and the overall aesthetics make it feel like a website from the early 2000s.
Or take this gem, if you scroll down a bit you can see the bright red and yellow “NEW” gifs blinking next to some news items.
Most of the government websites have the key personnel’s photos right at the start, on the top of the main landing page. That’s a bit disconcerting – these websites are supposed to represent institutions and what they represent and not the people who are temporarily in power. That information is important, but maybe not the first thing you want to be welcomed with.
A lot more sites are now connecting their social media pages to the website. The young population in the country is increasingly adapting to the worldwide use of social media to stay updated with the world. Linking your Facebook or Twitter feed to your website is an easy strategy to integrate both in your web interface and also, perhaps, separate the news updates from the content-based websites.
The list below is not comprehensive by any means but a good introduction to the .gov.pk landscape of the internet.