Open Government at the National Archives

About the Redesign

1. Redesign Goals were identified

The goal was to make a participatory user-focused website. The 2010 redesign would:

  • Streamline Navigation
  • Improve Access to Holdings
  • Simplify Content
  • Update Visual Design
  • Focus on Customer's Tasks

2. A Project Plan was developed

This multi-phase project plan meets NARA's internal goals and ensures the site design reflects optimal user experience for the largest number of users:

Phase I

  • Redesign the home page and top task pages to focus on primary customers.
  • Implement a new search interface.

Phase II

  • Address sections related to the other top user tasks.
  • Centralize similar content to improve access to holdings.

Phase III

  • Continue to improve access to holdings.
  • Continue to make improvements to focus on the user and their top tasks.
  • Migrate into a Content Management System (CMS).

3. User Data was Collected

To prepare for the redesign, we continually gathered website data and user feedback from WebTrends reports, American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey data, site search data, and visitor comments. The following reports helped us gather information about visits, customers, and tasks.

Card Sort Results

Online card sorts were used to help us learn how citizens would organize the site. In April, 2010, public and staff were invited to participate in Card Sorts during the Archives Genealogy Fair and online via Facebook and the NARAtions blog.

A summary of the results for each type of card sort is listed below. (There were 372 card sort participants.) These documents are in PDF format:

In May, we asked for input on how to refer to the documents, photos, and videos that the National Archives stores.

Who Are Our Customers and What Do They Want?

How frequently do you visit this site?
69%   First time
14%   Every 6 months or less
9%   About once a month
5%   About once a week

In what role are you using the website today?
30%   Veteran or Veteran's family
23%   Genealogist or family historian
14%   Educator or student
14%   Researcher

What were you primarily looking for today?
28%   Historical Documents
25%   Veterans' Service Records
19%   Genealogy or family history information
9%   Other

How would you most like to interact with this site?
41%   Bookmark or tag pages
35%   None
15%   Receiving newsletters/email updates
8%   Watching Vodcasts or video

Data above is based on the January 1-June 30, 2010 ACSI Survey Results - the survey randomly pops up for visitors.

Statistical Data Reports

Strategy and Results

The redesign goals and how they were met are outlined in these documents.

4. A Design was Selected Homepage Design CIdeascale, an online voting tool, was used for the online homepage redesign voting. Design C received the most votes for the Redesign.

5. Improvements Continue

A website is never done!

Next Steps:

  • Address sections related to the other top user tasks.
  • Centralize similar content to improve access to holdings.

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