The Census Bureau’s website is undergoing a digital transformation. Using 21st century technology to meet our centuries-old mission — making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible to the public than ever before.
Census.gov goals are to:
- Make it easier for visitors to reach their desired destination,
- Increase user satisfaction, and
- Expand the public’s understanding of how the Census Bureau measures America’s people, places and economy.
We are excited about our most recent transformation innovations that work toward providing the public with access to our statistics “anywhere, any time, on any device.”
To meet these goals, we focused on three key things: Usability testing, APIs, and mobile apps.
These include the Census Bureau’s first-ever public API for developers, and first mobile app– America’s Economy. Both acknowledge that our users are not only changing how they want our statistics, they’re changing how they access them.
Along with these new methods for accessing information, Census.gov has undergone some modest changes that transform the site, such as improved search features and a new home page.
More changes are coming as part of a major redesign effort. Based on customer research and feedback we collected and analyzed over time, we learned that both search and navigation could be much better. Visitors should not have to work so hard to find information and statistics.
Usability testing focused on new navigation using interactive wireframes. During the tests, in-person interviews determined whether proposed design and navigation changes to the site resonated with users. In June 2012, approximately 45 interviews were conducted in the D.C. metropolitan area and other cities. Usability test participants included researchers, journalists, among others.
The test results fed directly in to revised wireframes. The Census Bureau worked with GSA’s First Fridays program to validate the revised wireframes with a subset of the original test scenarios. This provided valuable confirmation of the original test results. The second round of interviews showed improved success rates across the questions used with GSA First Friday participants.
The transformation will change the way users navigate to content. We are bringing content together across programs by themes versus an internally facing, siloed structure. Research, including usability testing, is crucial to the success of the project.
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