DC.Gov Gets a Redesigned Web Site


From a press release:

“Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) unveiled the redesigned DC.Gov home page and associated resource pages. The launch of the new home page is part of a migration of all DC.Gov websites to the District’s Drupal content-management system (CMS). The launch of the home page is a highlight of the migration effort, but also represents the next generation of enhancements to give residents, visitors and businesses a more user-friendly experience.

The new home page arranges content to be more user-friendly, improves navigation tools to provide easier access to content, redesigns the look and feel of the home page, and improves the user’s ability to search for content. It also remedies a number of usability problems with the old home page, and incorporates a responsive design – introducing a best practice in web design that stays current with explosive growth in the use of mobile devices to gain access to web content.

“The new DC.Gov home page aligns with one of the goals of my One City Action Plan – strengthening government accountability,” said Mayor Gray. “DC.Gov will better serve the residents, businesses and visitors of the nation’s capital by improving a user’s ability to find and obtain information about District government operations more quickly and more efficiently.”

“The District’s new DC.Gov home page offers users a whole new set of functionalities that will make it easier than ever before to access, organize and make sense of web-based information and services,” said Rob Mancini, the District’s Chief Technology Officer. “This site reflects Mayor Gray’s goal of greater government accountability and transparency and further enables the ongoing exchange of ideas and information with our residents, visitors, and business owners.”

Highlights of the new DC.Gov web portal include:

· Responsive design. The new DC.Gov home page makes use of responsive design, which adapts the layout to the viewing environment. This means that users can view web content effectively regardless of the device and browser they are using, be it desktop, tablet or smart phone. The District recognizes the rapid growth in the use of smaller devices and wants to make sure that District government information and services are easily available regardless of how a visitor to the site is accessing it.

· Improved information architecture. OCTO improved the home page information architecture by reorganizing the types of information available on the home page with a user-friendly focus. The new site combines this choice of content and layout with an improved taxonomy and search customization to gain access to content directly. This makes the home page even more effective and efficient in finding information and services.

· Improved navigation. OCTO simplified the navigation from the home page with drop-down menus to make user access to interior web content an easier experience. This use of drop-down menus gives an immediate view of key subsections of each main navigation section and reduces the number of clicks to get to that information.

· More prominent search field. OCTO enlarged the search box and made it a more prominent feature in recognition of the fact that many people use search to navigate to interior pages. The new site also features improved keyword matches and other improvements to facilitate better use of search functions.

· A clean, simple design. The District government represents the residents and businesses of the District of Columbia, and DC.Gov represents the online presence of the local government rather than the federal presence. That means users won’t see national monuments or the Capitol or the White House when they visit the revamped DC.Gov. OCTO believed a simple, clean design best serves the visitor who comes to a government website primarily for information and services.

· Key services. The featured services listed near the top of the page are based on a combination of Google analytics and a knowledge of upcoming needs and web activity – increasing the chances users will find the service they are looking for on the home page itself. A searchable view of all the services across all agency websites is linked from the home page for users who don’t find the service they are seeking on the home page.

· “Sticky” menu. The top-level navigation is part of a “sticky” header, so the navigation stays on the page as the user scrolls down (along with the DC.Gov logo and the search function).”

8 Comment

  • I haven’t spent a lot of time with it but after a few minutes I’m not seeing much in the way of improvements. Seems to be mostly aesthetic, and many of the underlying pages haven’t been updated. I understand the need for a refresh but if memory serves, DC.gov received at least one major award for government website functionality back when it was introduced a decade or so ago. Hopefully this redesign builds on that success.
    Side-note: Am I the only one who gets eternally frustrated by “mobile” web sites? At best I can never find what I’m looking for and half the time major functionality is removed. I’d be less frustrated if sites would actually respond to “Request Desktop Site” commands as opposed to forcing you to look at the dumbed-down version.

    • This isnt a mobile site in the traditional sense. It’s “responsive.” Meaning, content will vary depending on your screen resolution. Your mobile phone will display different content (in various layouts) which are different than your ipad mini and different than the desktop. The site becomes responsive to the device you are viewing it on. DC.gov decided that on certain break points, content/links/components were not essential and were dropped off on purpose.

  • It looks nice, but the old site actually functioned pretty well. On a related note, is the reopened Georgetown DMV location in the same spot, in the mall where it used to be?

    • Um…I don’ t think I’ve ever been successful at finding anything I needed on the old site. It consistently linked to dead 404 error pages.

      • That was my experience too. And that was when I could successfully navigate to where I wanted – navigation was totally non-intuitive. I usually just reverted to Google.

  • I love how they still have the default Drupal favicon going on. I guess the devil is in the details.

  • Just pick up my old trash cans!

  • I am having a terrible time with the agencies themselves. The website is not really the problem.

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