Cutting edge research by Presentation Testing, Inc., commissioned by the Congressional Institute, reveals that Members of Congress are missing opportunities to communicate effectively.
Their websites and newsletters fall far short of where they could be. Members should be using the web to present their positions on issues and their reasons for important votes. With few exceptions, they are not.
Studies by other organizations bear this out. For example, the Congressional Management Foundation periodically grades Member’s websites and recently gave the majority of them a grade of “D.” They also said: ”There is a relationship between Web site grade and 2006 election margin. Members who received less than 50% of the vote had the highest percentage of sites that scored an “F.” The non-profit Sunlight Foundation recently conducted a study that revealed that even rudimentary information from Congressional websites was impossible to obtain through basic research.
The Congressional Institute went beyond these studies and:
- Held focus group sessions with citizens in four cities to study website and e-newsletter reactions and preferences
- Produced a prototype website and e-newsletters based on those preferences
- Took the prototypes back out to the citizens to verify their recommendations and refine the prototypes.
To make reading the report more meaningful, you may wish to open and print the prototypes first, thus making references to them easier to follow.