Open Government at the National Archives

Archives.gov Redesign Award and Entry Form

Archives.gov Homepage

The National Archives redesigned website was selected as a winner in the Website / Dynamic Media: Public Sector category at the ClearMark Awards.

Center for Plain Language ClearMark Awards
The ClearMark Awards are given to the best plain language documents and web sites. They are judged by a panel of international experts, following a strict set of criteria. Revised documents were judged on not just the quality of the final document, but also the quality of improvement.

Judges comments about the National Archives and Records Administration website include:

  • Good job identifying key audiences and knowing what they want.
  • Top tasks are easy to find.
  • Home page and most topic portal pages fit on one screen.
  • Very clean look and feel.
  • The site carries top-level navigation to secondary sections.
  • A very simple-to-use site!

Other Finalists in this Category:

Entry Form for the ClearMark Awards 2011

Title of your entry:   National Archives Public Web Site Redesign

Who is the target audience for this entry?

The public is our primary audience and our data shows that:

37% are researchers/genealogists/family historians
30% are veterans or veteran's family members
14% are educators or students

Of these, 69% are first-time visitors.

What is the purpose of this entry?

This entry shows how we redesigned the web site to focus on the primary customer tasks. The top tasks include:

  • researching historical documents
  • getting personal military service records
  • looking for family documents
  • planning a visit
  • using lesson plans

Based on the top task analysis, focusing the redesign on these tasks would improve the experience of over 80% of site visitors.

This entry also shows the results of a transparent redesign process where visitors and stakeholders participated in the redesign process and voted for the final design. With the staff and public's input, we streamlined the navigation, improved access to online holdings, simplified the content, and updated the visual design.

What were the main constraints affecting this entry (for instance, regulatory requirements, limited time or budget, existing formatting)? Limit 725 characters

In addition to meeting all laws and regulations for Federal web sites such as Access for People with Disabilities (Section 508), the Plain Writing Act of 2010, the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) etc., we needed to meet a variety of visitor tasks while also meeting stakeholder requirements and increasing the site's accessibility and usability.

We were also under a tight deadline to launch the new site while working on several other major projects for our agency. One of our goals was to allow as much stakeholder and visitor participation as possible and still stay on schedule. (The redesign was part of the flagship Open Government Initiative to create an effective and easy tool for our users.)

Describe any testing associated with this entry. Limit 725 characters

The redesign was based on reviews of:

  • multiple card sorts
  • customer questionnaires
  • web statistics
  • online surveys and customer feedback
  • usability testing
  • online and in-person voting

Card sorts were provided to designated audiences as well as to the public to confirm preferred terminology and site organization. Usability tests were performed throughout the design process, from the wireframe stage to prototypes to an interactive site, and testing has continued post-launch. Online and in-person voting were used to confirm the preferred design of four different graphic design concepts.

Describe any results associated with this entry. Limit 725 characters

Results of public opportunities to participate online and in person using tools such as cards sorts, user testing software, and social media networks to help organize and label content are online. Learn More

More than 3,000 visitors participated in voting for the preferred design.

Positive comments since the 12/13/10 launch include:

"Wow, great redesign. Love the clean lines and calming colors that allow the focus to be on the amazing content."

"The redesigned Archives.gov looks gorgeous and the new top labels are very good! Congratulations on the good design and organization!"

"The new design is cleaner, features clearer organization of content and loaded more quickly on my mobile device." Survey results show continued satisfaction and improved satisfaction with look & feel, navigation, and online transparency.


A website is never done – see what's in the next phases.

We'd be happy to receive your comments!

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