During this economic downturn, we can only imagine that most visitors to the Census Bureau’s web site seek information about employment and jobs with the Census bureau, as the Bureau will hire more than 1.4 million Americans during the 2010 Census, including the 140,000 who have already been verifying addresses across America.
At MyTwoCensus, we regularly browse and comb the www.Census.gov.
Naturally, we had some questions that needed answering, so we clicked on “FAQs.” This brought us to a special section of the Census Bureau’s site devoted to answering Americans’ questions about the 2010 Census through a list of Frequently Asked Questions and an interface to submit questions to the Census Bureau.
On the top of any FAQ page, there is a list of navigational links, such as “Jobs” and “About 2010 Census.” Very disappointingly, both the links to “Jobs” and “Timeline of Activites,” which likely appear on hundreds of Census Web pages, are completely dead links.
Not only that, but visitors are not brought to a standard 404 error page, which any teenager who knows anything about HTML could build. Instead, browsers reveal a message that the page doesn’t exist, and visitors must figure out on their own that, to find a job, they need to navigate all the way back to the Census home page, where they can find a working “Jobs” link.
This experience is extremely user unfriendly for job seekers, many of whom are likely older individuals who may not ever be able to figure out how to find the correct “Jobs” page. Just how many potential Census Bureau job applicants were lost because they couldn’t navigate to the proper Jobs page?
Even though these broken links reside within the FAQ section, –which is powered by RightNow Technologies, a firm whose software MyTwoCensus staff has used for other endeavors– when any part of the Census.gov site is updated, the first task should be to ensure that all links lead to the right place.
Here are our recommendations:
- Fix these broken “Jobs” and “Timeline of Activities” links
- Set up a proper 404 error page, which will lead anyone who does stumble upon a dead link to a page that helps them find what they’re looking for (check out some 404 inspiration)
- Run a dead link checker, to ensure all dead links are fixed across the site.
Anything else wrong with Census.gov? Let us know! We’ll follow up in the coming weeks with additional thoughts on how to improve the Census Bureau’s site. For now, fixing broken links should be the top priority!