FTS streamlines Web site design

As part of an effort to improve its marketing, the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service last month gave its World Wide Web site a face lift, making it easier for users to locate the information they need about contracts and services.

The site, at fts.gsa.gov, is often the first point of contact for FTS' federal customers and vendor partners, and in the past that contact could be very confusing, said Paul Tennessee, deputy assistant commissioner in FTS' Office of Strategic Planning and Business Development.

"If you look at the old FTS site, you'll notice there are a lot of Web sites within the main one," he said. Each of those sites—including one for each FTS office and often several more for groups within each office—managed its own content and often its own look and method of choosing Web addresses.

This could have made it difficult for customers and vendors who were looking for information to navigate the site as a whole, Tennessee said. So as part of an overall effort to bolster the agency's marketing initiatives, FTS started working with outside marketing consultants and settled on a single design for its print and electronic communications.

"Marketing is a new environment for us, and we had consultants that said we should be consistent," Tennessee said. "What we're trying to do is thematically blend our outreach.... The Web is the first because that's where so many people go first."

The new design is more colorful and eye-catching than the old blue-and-white frame layout. The site also contains a mosaic of pictures in the background to symbolize each area of information.

Though the new look helps bring the agency's site together, the changes are not only graphical. Much of the information on the site has been rearranged to bring together business lines and contracts for easier navigation.

The most obvious change is the new FTS Mall, which splits all of the FTS contracts into four "umbrella" programs: Smart Government, Connected Government, AnyWare Government and the Wireless Store.The Wireless Store, which includes all of the agency's wireless offerings, was the first area within FTS to undergo the design change, going live with the new look early last month.

Smart Government, which FTS defines as "the imaginative application of digital tools and techniques," includes the majority of the agency's information technology contracts, such as Seat Management for desktop outsourcing.

Connected Government is the FTS center for networking and telecommunications contracts, such as FTS 2001, and AnyWare Government includes services and contracts for telecommuting and other mobile needs.

FTS also brought its FedWare online magazine—which includes case studies, FTS news and information on trends in the federal IT world—to a prominent position on the front page.

But while the main pages for all of these areas have been redesigned, large portions of the site remain in the old format. It will take some time to move everything into to the new format, but Tennessee and his group are working with each of FTS' offices to update the content of their Web sites and incorporate them into the redesign while still letting them maintain some control, he said.

"It is a work in progress and we'll be changing and improving it all the time," he said.

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Site Survey—fts.gsa.gov

The General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service has made its World Wide Web site easier to navigate by adopting uniform page designs and grouping information to make it easier to find.

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