The Tension between User-centered Design and E-government Services
Nalini Kotamraju, University of Twente, Netherlands
Tuesday, July 27, 12:30 pm Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor
E-government services throughout the world have been plagued by lower than expected rates of adoption by individuals and institutions. A lack of user centricity in e-government services design and development has been identified as a primary reason for this slow adoption. Even when governments involve users or potential users in their design process, the resulting e-government service is often not user-centered. Drawing on our involvement with PortNL, an integrated e-government service for expatriates in the Netherlands, we suggest that a fundamental tension between the needs of users and those of governments is at the core of governments' difficulty in creating user-centered services. User-centered design prioritizes the needs of users, supporting their approach to tasks and information-seeking, as well as advocating for the importance of users needs even, when necessary, over the needs of service builders. In an e-government context, however, the service builders represent governments, not companies. And governments in their various forms have their own needs and goals, which do not necessarily succumb easily to those of their users.
Nalini Kotamraju is an Assistant Professor at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.