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California Health and Human Services Open Data Portal (ca.gov)
96 points by ruffrey 159 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

The large popup window which shows up when I navigated to the website is quite intrusive. I would suggest making this more user friendly.

> quite intrusive

No, it's not. It opens instantly, has no close timer, is very obvious about its intent (which is beneficial to the user), and closes instantly with a single click (and stays closed on subsequent visits). It's minimally intrusive at best, but the trade-off of the very relevant user notification negates even that.

Its a government website which provides data to you. They've moved to a new platform and they're asking you to provide a bit of information so that they can improve their platform which in turn should improve the developer experience. Are you fucking kidding me? More user friendly? How about they don't ask anything, guess at what the developer wants, so that a few years from now you can come back and comment how their data portal is shit.

There are other, less obnoxious ways to ask for feedback.

Their intent is purely to improve the developer experience.

> There are other, less obnoxious ways to ask for feedback

Yes I agree but I don't think that applies to this specific use case.

Just the other week I stumbled on the CDPH's excellent data site when trying to find the old page they had for immunization data. Besides making a data portal where datasets are easier to find, I feel it's important to give the CDPH a shout-out for good-practices when it comes to overhauling their websites.

So this was a file I was trying to access which worked on the CDPH's old site:


If you visit that site, you get this excellent 404 page, screenshotted below: http://imgur.com/a/7z7xJ

Maybe I've run into too many poorly-maintained government (and non-gov) websites, but here's why the 404-page impressed me.

1. Written for laypersons ("May we assist you in locating information during our transition?")

2. Contains contextual information about why the 404 happened ("Our most popular content is moving from our former site which was renamed to https://archive.cdph.ca.gov on May 1, 2017.")

3. Contains bullet point tips on how to find that old URL ("Try replacing the 'cdph.ca.gov' or 'www.cdph.ca.gov' portion of the URL with 'archive.cdph.ca.gov' in your web browsers address bar." and "Please use our search on https://cdph.ca.gov using the topic of interest.")

In other words, the old file I was trying to find can be found in the archive domain:


Just the fact that they archived their old site so that the near-decade of URLs accumulated are exactly mirrored onto a subdomain is an impressive amount of planning and courtesy in itself. But to have a 404 page at all, nevermind a helpful one, is a pleasant surprise when it seems the status quo is to do an auto-redirect that confuses the hell out of laypersons and technical-skilled folks alike.

FWIW, the immunization data used to be provided in a set of Excel spreadsheets, one URL for each year. It was a fun web-scraping/collating exercise, but now the data portal has it in convenient, tidy (as in, "tidy data") CSV:


This is very project-specific with respect to CA.gov sites. (My sister contracted on a number of projects and told me horror stories).

One example is that they completely replaced their legislation and laws search engine (texts of codes) but left the non-functional deprecated site in place for months. An obscure reference link to the new site was added in small text (the smallest font used). The old page appeared to "work" but always returned "No results found."

I would have preferred an ugly but obvious instruction, even a big red 'X' with maybe <h1><font color=red>Go HERE, dummy!</font></h1>

They could still make it better by putting a link to the new location on the 404 page.

(I also don't think a redirect to the correct location would be a bad choice)

In case anyone was curious, this data portal is built using a service/company called Socrata which offers data portals and related services for cities, states, federal departments, etc.

You can browse some of their data sources here: https://www.opendatanetwork.com/

Your comment is completely incorrect. This is a platform called OpenGov that uses the open source CKAN data portal as its base. They offer additional visualizations and hosting support on top of the open source offering, but this is definitely not Socrata.

Are you sure, because the footer says its CKAN based.

The footer says powered by OpenGov and ckan.

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