Impact of the Government Shutdown on Federal Website User Experience

As I write this, the calendar marks day 14 of the US government shutdown. There is enough finger-pointing going around, so let’s focus instead on the impact to users of federal websites. With some vacation time coming up in December, I was planning a family vacation to Arizona. The first result in a search for “grand canyon” was a link to the U.S. National Park Service, which led me to a message that the website was also shutdown (see below) – an online dead end!

NPS Grand Canyon Website shutdown

Thankfully there were many alternate sites, and I could continue planning our trip. The experience however got me interested in how other federal websites were impacted by, and handling the shutdown. Federal websites that were impacted by the shutdown broadly handled the online user experience in one of three different ways:

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