Web Watch: Recovery.gov
[Editor’s Note: Some changes have been made to the Recovery.gov Web site since this article was written, but we’re leaving it as is to focus on elements that might be of interest to our readership.]
President Obama is a stellar communicator, something even most people who disagree with his policies will admit. It goes beyond his abilities as a speechmaker. His campaign featured a message of change. And the message never wavered over two years, beyond that shift from the primary (“Change you can believe in”) to the general election (“The change you need”). The focus was always on “you,” his audience — supporters, potential supporters and even rivals.
So how has this consistency and clarity carried over into an Obama administration? This month, we’re looking at Recovery.gov, the Obama administration’s Web site all about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the stimulus package.
Recovery.gov isn’t a terribly deep site, meaning there aren’t many pages or levels of information. It’s streamlined to give you an overview. Perhaps it’s built to grow as the stimulus package money gets used. I guess we’ll find out as the ARRA funds continue to get doled out.
As is typical with an Obama-sponsored Web site, it’s very user-friendly and easy to navigate. You can find what you’re looking for without confusion, and along the top is a constantly updated information visualization (sometimes known as infographics, though designers who create information visualizations bristle just a bit at the term). An “infoviz,” when done well, can tell you a lot of information in a relatively small amount of space.
In an introductory video, the president explains the purpose of Recovery.gov. During the campaign, Obama revolutionized the use of video in politics (including both official campaign videos and supporter-created ones). And he’s continued his efforts, making the transition from the traditional weekly radio address to a weekly YouTube address, in which we can see him speak directly to us, his audience. The Recovery.gov video works in the same way. He speaks directly to the camera to explain the what and why of the site, and asks for public scrutiny and feedback.