Enterprises are launching “corporate portals,” gateway sites that act as an entryway to both a company’s Web presence and its intranet. In this column, Web consultant Kelly McKnight gives his opinion on a government portal, highlighting strengths and weaknesses that may translate to your company’s Web presence. The following index provides an objective look at the site’s features.
Kelly’s thoughts on the U.S. Department of Commerce Web site
I have to admit, I have a major prejudice against government Web sites. The reason I don’t like them is that I’ve never been to one that worked, so I had very low expectations when I headed to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The site did absolutely nothing to change my opinion of government sites. In fact, it added to my dislike.

With a logo that looks similar to the CIA’s and a sneaky photo of Director William M. Daley, the site looks like it belongs to another spy agency. The home page was super slow to download. The herky-jerky message crawl was one culprit, and I expect the background signets are another. Come on, DOC, this style went out two years ago.

The home page sets the tone of the site with an all-time scroll record. The boring text goes on and on—and on. I thought the page would never end.

This site is packed with information. It’s just not well organized, user friendly, or graphically pleasing. I’m sorry to be so negative, but this site just does not take good advantage of the Web as a medium.

The verdict
As Calvin Coolidge said, “The business of government is business.” This site is supposed to represent U.S. business, and it does a very poor job of it. There is an adage that says if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. I think this site is a victim of this type of thinking.

I believe the only remedy is for this entire site to go away and be replaced with one that is built with some consideration of user traffic.

Kelly McKnight is a principal of Via Internet Studio, a consulting firm that specializes in corporate Web site design, Internet marketing, and e-commerce.

Now it’s your turn to review the U.S. Department of Commerce Web site. Just click on Rate this Site!, and you can help separate the good from the bad from the ugly. It only takes a minute or two to complete your rating, so don’t waste any more time—rate this site now! For Kelly’s rating, scroll below and click to page two.