Executive summary

For the purposes of this paper, “information websites” are websites created by public institutions to provide citizens with information on public services, procedures and rules to walk them through the complexity of the public sector when trying to solve their needs. They can be distinguished from transactional portals, which allow citizens or businesses to directly initiate and potentially complete administrative procedures from an end-to-end perspective.

To be effective, information websites should meet four main requirements: authoritativeness (information given on the website is not contradicted by public officials “on the ground”), comprehensiveness (at least on the topics covered on the website), fit-for-purpose and ease of navigation, so that citizens can easily find what they are looking for and actually identify solutions to address their needs. Information websites seek to efficiently and effectively ensure that citizens have all the necessary information before they request specific governmental services.

Effective information website design is not a straightforward task. Governments, and public institutions more generally, should clearly identify the goals of these websites to monitor effectiveness. While many governments and public bodies have used such websites to provide digital public services and promote citizen engagement, only a few information websites appear to be successful as information sources from public institutions to citizens.

Similarly, countries in the transition towards being digital governments face the challenge of horizontal integration and coherence across public sector institutions for a concerted and aligned way to understand user needs and provide relevant information to solve their problems in a more convenient and effective manner (OECD, 2020[1]). For this reason, as stated in the OECD Framework for Public Service Design and Delivery, government information services should be considered an integral component of a whole-of-government and omnichannel strategy for service design and delivery so the experience of users is consistent and coherent regardless of their preferred channel (OECD, 2020[3]).

Moreover, several governments have focused their efforts solely on publishing extensive amounts of information, as required by their legal framework, but ensuring access to meaningful and comprehensive information for citizens requires more: for example, adopting practices to improve accessibility conditions and communication standards while reducing administrative burdens. Procedural complexity, a plethora of regulations, organisational structures, technicalities, legal bottlenecks, communication failures and various other issues commonly found throughout the public sector can hinder efforts to clearly inform citizens about administrative processes.

Governments are increasingly focusing on tackling public governance challenges, improving communication practices, and achieving the digital transformation of the public sector. This report presents a practical toolkit to ensure high-quality government information websites, as well as key elements to upgrade sites, including transactional portals (i.e. platforms that allow users to conduct formalities digitally). The report extensively describes the Greek government’s work on the National Registry of Administrative Procedures, which was carried out with the OECD’s technical assistance. Beyond the Greek experience, findings and recommendations are based on good practice examples in OECD countries, including Canada, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom. The toolkit provides findings and recommendations across three areas to ease their implementation: i) resource management, ii) building blocks for effective information websites and iii) upgrading informational portals. It is designed to offer practical input and hands-on advice for governments wishing to implement information websites.

The first chapter considers the planning and management of resources when building information websites, which is crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainability of these websites. This entails:

  • Comprehensive cost estimates for the original development of information websites, taking into account the need for maintenance and upgrades.

  • Resource requirements, including the choice of platform functionalities that support all relevant functions – the software used, the people involved, and the content stored – as well as the resources needed to create and update content in the platform.

The second chapter addresses the main elements to be considered during the implementation of government information websites to ensure they achieve their goals: 1) the structure and use of the information website, with a focus on the homepage and the search tool; 2) the engagement with, outreach to, and assistance for end-users to promote use and instil confidence; 3) the necessary, continuous improvement of platforms to ensure they are fit-for-purpose.

  • The website should be designed and developed with the end-user in mind, with their involvement during early development stages.

  • Information websites should have visually pleasant, easy-to-understand homepages, which enable all users to find necessary information. The website should include a powerful, user-friendly search tool. The information should be organised in a clear and intuitive way. Moreover, the hierarchy of information should be defined according to available data, and be based on citizen/business consultations to ensure clarity of language.

  • Different stakeholders to test the websites before launch should be engaged to ensure accountability and the incorporation of different points of views (interests or profiles) collected during development phases.

  • The performance of information websites should be regularly assessed.

  • Improvements, modifications, and upgrades should then be proposed and implemented (based on the aforementioned assessments) – taking into account good practices, expert advice, and stakeholder/user inputs.

The final chapter of this report addresses the adoption of technological features and developments to further enhance search tools, as well as the upgrading of informational platform to transactional portals. Recommendations include the following:

  • Planning and developing the adoption of virtual assistants to improve the end-user experience.

  • Developing an app version for all website services – thereby increasing website accessibility.

  • Streamlining the transition from communication webpages to transactional websites, where users can obtain relevant information and receive public services.


The report was approved by the OECD Regulatory Policy Committee for publication via written procedure on 20 December 2022 and was prepared for publication by the Secretariat.

This document was produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

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