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30/03: Why is CLF 2.0 so damn ugly?
As a UX professional based in Ottawa, I work quite a bit with Government clients. Prior to this year, the internet standard used by the Government of Canada (also known as the Treasury Board Common Look & Feel Guidelines or 'CLF') was a rigid antiquated template professed in the name of uniformity. This year however, the eagerly anticipated CLF 2.0 has finally been approved and mandated for all government departments. From a standards perspective, CLF 2.0 is greatly superior to its predecessor as it requires compliance to the XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS 1.0 standards, and adherence to the WCAG Priority 1 and 2 checkpoints.
However, from a user experience perspective, apart from the obvious accessibility and browser compatibility improvements, CLF 2.0 is still the ugly sister of major government common look and feel guidelines. Apart from the US (the US government only professes adherence to Section 508: Americans with Disability Act and does not provide look and feel guidelines), the governments of Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and the UK have an appearance that is less rigid and much more visually pleasing. While I commend the designers at TBS for their standards work, would it hurt to hire an agency to make it look professional as well ?
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