USA.gov gets redesign to boost usability

The General Services Administration last week unveiled a redesign of USA.gov, the federal government's official Web portal.

The site, which was launched early this year as a replacement for FirstGov.gov, provides a centralized place to find government information online. USA.gov lets visitors search for information on hundreds of government services, from checking tax refund status to contacting elected officials.

The agency based the changes on the results of usability testing and other user feedback.

GSA wants to make the site clearer and easier to use by reducing page clutter; adding images to news and feature stories; specifically tailoring the Spanish-language version of the site, GobiernoUSA.gov, to the Latino community; and making it easier to change the font size.

The site now offers RSS feeds in Spanish, local weather forecasts from the National Weather Service, and a House and Senate 'spotlight' feature. When visitors to the site enter a search for their senator or representative, the site will serve up a small postcard of the elected official's photo, Web site, e-mail address and voting record, along with the search results.

The redesign also added visual cues to make it clear that USA.gov is the official U.S. government Web portal. For example, it posts a crisp image of the U.S. flag, as well as the Great Seal of the United States and the White House, on every page. And the site's color scheme is unmistakably red, white and blue.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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