How to get results from Web site action centers

What Justice does to get the most from visitor input

Action centers are one way agencies can improve their Web sites by organizing commonly performed or top tasks.

The Justice Department’s Action Center, a box located on the site, lists tasks that visitors can perform across Justice sites, such as report a crime, find a job, apply for a grant or find a form.

Tracy Russo, the department's director of new media, detailed some best practices gleaned from Justice's experiences at the recent Government Web and New Media Conference.

Related stories:

A renaissance of government Web apps

10 gov apps that get results

Great dot-gov Web sites 2009

Great dot-gov Web sites 2008

The Action Center activity box appears on the majority of new pages, she said, and the box travels with visitors as they move on the site.

The trick is to present the tasks using as much plain language as possible, Russo said.

Here are the steps to building an action center.

Analyze. Do a customer profile. After you know who is coming to your site, you can identify the tasks they want to accomplish, Russo noted.

Organize. Items are then put into a list alphabetically, by popularity or what looks prettiest in the graphics. It doesn’t matter because they are all top tasks, Russo said.

Evaluate. Justice's action center has been up for about eight months. There are things that need to be added and other functions that need to be taken away, Russo noted. In some cases, that involves going back to the analysis step to start the process over. The Web team is taking steps to improve the action center — making the box more prominent, for instance — based on the latest metrics.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group