Digital gov

USGS unveils new Web presence, seeks feedback

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The U.S. Geological Survey launched a beta version of its new website March 19 that combines modern design and improved access to scientific information for users to explore from any device.

The new site is part of a two-year effort to ensure that consistent navigation, a positive user experience and mobile-friendly design become prominent fixtures in the agency's Web presence. Those features had taken a backseat as its Web presence grew after the original site's launch in 1994. Since then, the site has been packed with new science research, tools and applications, but it was not particularly easy to navigate.

"Over the past two years, we've been working diligently to build an effort focused on improving our web presence to improve customer service, usability and easy access to our science," USGS Social Media Lead Scott Horvath wrote in a blog post. "We've listened to and analyzed customer feedback over the years and have baked that in from the beginning of this effort. In addition, we're embracing new directions in federal web management such as the Digital Government Strategy, mobile first, domain consolidation, content management tools and more."

Horvath said the beta site is just the tip of the iceberg, and a simplified design, mobile-responsiveness, improved navigation and search capabilities, and an enhanced user experience are still to come, likely by May or June. The beta site should be up for at least 30 days in HTML5, Cascading Style Sheets and JavaScript, while the full rollout will be in the open-source content management framework Drupal.

Until then, some links from the beta site might direct visitors to the current USGS site.

Horvath said the agency wants as much feedback as possible from desktop and mobile users. To leave comments, go to the beta site and click on the "Send Feedback" button at the bottom right of the page.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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