User-Centric Design for Federal Websites

For Federal Offices of Communication, the act—and art—of balancing websites that both cater to the public and promote the organizational structure and mission of the organization is always top of mind. Accordingly, those partnering with Federal offices must prioritize meeting both needs when designing and building agency sites. On numerous projects, our team has successfully managed to increase usability and deliver user-centric designs while simultaneously building sites that allow our Federal clients to bolster their brand. A sample of results for some clients:

-a swift 4% increase in first-time visitor overall satisfaction
-76% of all mobile users strongly agreeing that the new site made content easier to find
-88% of frequently visiting teens being satisfied with the new site

Below are some of the tools we’ve implemented to achieve success:

Navigation and Information Architecture

Treejack is a great usability testing tool that development teams can wield to test the information architecture and navigation of the site prior to even beginning a design. It is best used to test the findability of topics in a website using different navigational hierarchies. For one of our projects, both internal and external stakeholders were given 46 tasks to perform using a variety of different navigation hierarchies to find the most optimal site organization for both constituent groups.


Usability Testing

For usability testing, our team leverages both Loop11 and Using a live, interactive environment, both of these tools allow development teams to gain deep understanding of user behavior by observing users as they complete a series of tasks and questions on the site and/or mobile app in question. Interactions are captured and then analyzed in comprehensive reports. As an added bonus, provides video footage of the interaction for review:


In summary, Federal websites and applications are often designed with too much emphasis on organizational hierarchy and goals, and too little focus on meeting end-users’ needs and expectations. User-Centric Design (UCD) tools can help government agencies buck this trend, however, allowing them to create websites and applications that engage users and maximize their interaction. Ultimately, this results in a sure win-win: Federal agencies’ constituents can experience an efficient, satisfying, and user-friendly design, and—with constituents’ increased engagement—organizations can ensure that their missions and information are communicated effectively. Act balanced.