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 Justice.gov 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.


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The Action Center activity box appears on the majority of new Justice.gov 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.

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