NASA.gov: The outer reaches of cyberspace
Agency's site builds on user feedback to expand its audience
NASA.gov has something for everybody, connecting with educators, students, policy-makers, scientists and journalists in a media-rich fashion.
That might be because the agency listens to its users via many channels, including satisfaction surveys, e-mail and social media, to learn what they are seeking on NASA.gov. For instance, in December, the Web team sought user feedback on a new menu design to make it easier for users to find popular but hard-to-find content. The team is sharing samples of the new design on the “Behind the Page” blog, and it seeks comments from the public and others before launching the redesign.
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That type of public outreach helped NASA.gov earn top billing in a recent American Customer Satisfaction Index survey conducted by ForeSee Results, and the site received a top ranking in the L2 Digital IQ Index for the Public Sector, which rates 100 public-sector organizations on the effectiveness of their websites, digital outreach, social media use and mobile sites.
NASA’s team is continuously working on ways to add functionality and improve navigation on the site. During the summer, it changed the navigation on its home page multimedia box to make options clearer. The Web team forged better integration with social media tools, too.
In fall 2010, the Web team launched new slide shows on the home page and other sections of its site that automatically step through the latest news or features. Users can also manually navigate the content. The design includes a larger image and gives NASA more spots to showcase material from around the site, according to the Web team.
Other items worth noting on the agency’s home page include the image of the day — recent images include interesting photos of the Andromeda Galaxy — links to video, podcasts, interactive features, 3-D resources, RSS feeds and blogs.
Extreme Planet Makeover, an interactive feature, lets users build their own planet. One section consists of a collection of 3D models, textures and images from inside NASA that you can download for free. A new version of mobile.NASA.gov aggregates the latest news, features and images onto users’ mobile devices.
Rutrell Yasin is senior editor for Government Computer News. Follow him on Twitter: @Yasin36.