NARA to lift veil on Archives.gov face-lift

National Archives polled the public in search for website redesign ideas

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will debut an updated website featuring a new home page and features suggested by the public.

NARA designated the third redesign of Archives.gov as one of its flagship open-government programs in April. The website debuted in 1996 and was redesigned in 2001 and 2005. A preview of the redesigned site will be available on Oct. 27, the agency said in a news release.

Polling of users helped to identify who was using Archives.gov and for what purpose. The survey revealed that the largest group of users, 30 percent, were veterans or family members of veterans, followed by genealogy researchers at 23 percent, according to a “Redesign Participation and Results” report produced by NARA.


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NARA identified problems with the existing Archives.gov website that needed to be resoved in the redesign, including inconsistent and irrelevant navigation menus, a site organization that does not support tasks users want to perform, scattered and dispersed content, duplication and clutter, and an outdated design. From that research, the agency determined that it wanted to simplify and reorganize the website to focus on the most frequently performed tasks.

Some 372 volunteers answered detailed questionnaires online to help determine the information architecture on the updated website. More volunteers voted on proposed website designs in July, with 3,123 votes cast online or in person for the winning design, the agency said, adding that the next phase of the project is for the public to view the winning design and launching the top task phases.

In early 2011,NARA expects to reconfigure the sections of the site for other tasks, and will update the content management system at that time.

"It's essential for the National Archives to have a user-friendly online presence,” Archivist David Ferriero said. "We hope to reach new audiences while still engaging our long time users, researchers and visitors.”

 

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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