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New Content and New Look for Webcontent.gov

Welcome to Webcontent.gov, Version 2.0! Over the past year, we’ve listened to your suggestions for improving the site. So – based on your input – we’ve given it a little facelift, expanded the content, and added some new features. It's not an extreme makeover. But there are changes throughout the site we want you to know about.

This is our first upgrade to the site since it was originally launched in September 2004. We hope you’ll continue to work with us in 2006 to make Webcontent.gov the premier resource for government web managers!

About the Changes

  • Expanded content: Before, the site mainly consisted of the OMB policies and implementation guidance. But the site now addresses most of the major topic areas that are involved in managing government websites. Check out these new sections in particular, which have the most new content:
  • Made “topics” the primary way to navigate: The eight major topics on the homepage are the main way to browse the site. They’re repeated in the left navigation bar of all the sub-pages.
  • Better differentiated between requirements and best practices: You told us that you sometimes have a hard time telling the difference between what’s official “policy” and what’s a guideline or best practice. So we’ve indicated at the top of most pages whether it’s a “ best practice” or “ requirement.” And, on each page, we indicate the specific law, regulation, policy or other document that relates to that topic.
  • Upgraded look and feel: You didn’t ask for a major change to the look and feel, but we’ve made some small enhancements, such as using crisper graphics and colors and adding more white space to make the pages easier to scan and read. You may notice that we also changed the font from Arial to Verdana, which is often considered the best font for online reading.
  • Done more editing and “chunking”: We found during usability testing that some of the original pages were fairly text-heavy and difficult to scan. So, we’ve tried to follow plain language principles by saying the same thing with fewer words. And, we’ve broken the text into smaller parts as much as possible.
  • Converted to more logical URLs : We’ve changed most of the URLs. They’re more intuitive than before, and they (more or less) follow the overall file structure of the site. So if you have any Webcontent.gov sub-pages in your “favorites” folder, you’ll need to update them. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we’re a relatively small site so hopefully this won’t be much of a burden.

If you’re having any trouble locating old pages in the new version, take a look at the Topics A-Z page. It’s a complete directory of the site, alphabetized by topic. Or just contact us and we’ll help you find what you need.

  • Included new tools : You also asked for more practical tools, so we’ve added some checklists to help you step through the various requirements and best practices. This is just a start -- we hope to add a lot more tools like this in the future. Also, we’re experimenting with writing certain pages in the format of a “step-by-step” guide. See the Managing Links page as one example.
  • Improved the search engine : We moved the search box to the banner of every page so it’s more prominent. We use the USA.gov search engine that will soon launch a major upgrade, which will include much better relevancy and presentation of search results, including categorizing results into sub-topics. So, stay tuned for a big improvement!

The Redesign Process

Many of you contributed to the redesign process. Here are the major steps we took to get to this point:

  • Listened to your feedback at workshops and other events
  • Reviewed suggestions from our customer satisfaction survey
  • Analyzed web log data to identify most requested information
  • Did card sorting exercises to help structure and organize the content
  • Developed paper prototypes of a new design
  • Conducted usability testing of both paper and online prototypes

What’s Next?

We’re already planning for Version 3.0. You know the drill – you learn a lot during the redesign phase but you just can’t implement everything. So we’ve put a number of ideas in the “parking lot” for the near future:

  • Offer content by lifecycle : we’ve started this a bit by having a section called “ Getting Started.” We may consider adding other lifecycles for the future.
  • Offer content by audience : we may tailor content for specific audience groups such as web managers, writers/editors, academics/researchers, etc.
  • Provide more integration with Usability.gov: Usability.gov has a wealth of resources that we can link to (we sometimes refer to it as our “sister” site since our two sites complement each other so well). Usability.gov is going through its own redesign, which will be announced soon.
  • Include a contacts directory: Read about our plans to create a contacts directory of government web managers.

We Need Additional Resources

You’ll see that the site still has some holes where we need additional resources. In particular, we need:

  • Sample Statements of Work (SOWs) and Requests for Proposal (RFPs)
  • Sample position descriptions (PDs) for web managers or other web staff
  • Marketing plans

Please send us additional resources so we can consider adding them to the site.

Tell Us What You Think

So take a spin through Webcontent.gov. We know it’s not perfect (we still need to fix a few things…), but, we wanted you to see the new version sooner rather than later and be able to access the new content.

We know you’ll tell us what we got right and what we didn’t. Send us comments at: webcontenttoolkit@gsa.gov. Or – better yet – send us comments through our online customer survey if you’re asked to fill it out.


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