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Mayor Gray and OCTO Launch New DC.Gov Home Page

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mayor Gray and OCTO Launch New DC.Gov Home Page

New page brings improved design and user-friendly experience
Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) unveiled the newly redesigned DC.Gov home page and associated resource pages. The launch of the new home page is part of a migration of all DC.Gov websites to the District’s Drupal content-management system (CMS). The launch of the home page is a highlight of the migration effort, but also represents the next generation of enhancements to give residents, visitors and businesses a more user-friendly experience.
 
The new home page arranges content to be more user-friendly, improves navigation tools to provide easier access to content, redesigns the look and feel of the home page, and improves the user’s ability to search for content. It also remedies a number of usability problems with the old home page, and incorporates a responsive design – introducing a best practice in web design that stays current with explosive growth in the use of mobile devices to gain access to web content.
 
“The new DC.Gov home page aligns with one of the goals of my One City Action Plan – strengthening government accountability,” said Mayor Gray. “DC.Gov will better serve the residents, businesses and visitors of the nation's capital by improving a user’s ability to find and obtain information about District government operations more quickly and more efficiently.”
 
“The District’s new DC.Gov home page offers users a whole new set of functionalities that will make it easier than ever before to access, organize and make sense of web-based information and services,” said Rob Mancini, the District’s Chief Technology Officer. “This site reflects Mayor Gray’s goal of greater government accountability and transparency and further enables the ongoing exchange of ideas and information with our residents, visitors, and business owners.”
 
Highlights of the new DC.Gov web portal include:
  • Responsive design. The new DC.Gov home page makes use of responsive design, which adapts the layout to the viewing environment. This means that users can view web content effectively regardless of the device and browser they are using, be it desktop, tablet or smart phone. The District recognizes the rapid growth in the use of smaller devices and wants to make sure that District government information and services are easily available regardless of how a visitor to the site is accessing it.
  • Improved information architecture. OCTO improved the home page information architecture by reorganizing the types of information available on the home page with a user-friendly focus. The new site combines this choice of content and layout with an improved taxonomy and search customization to gain access to content directly. This makes the home page even more effective and efficient in finding information and services.
  • Improved navigation. OCTO simplified the navigation from the home page with drop-down menus to make user access to interior web content an easier experience. This use of drop-down menus gives an immediate view of key subsections of each main navigation section and reduces the number of clicks to get to that information.
  • More prominent search field. OCTO enlarged the search box and made it a more prominent feature in recognition of the fact that many people use search to navigate to interior pages. The new site also features improved keyword matches and other improvements to facilitate better use of search functions.
  • A clean, simple design. The District government represents the residents and businesses of the District of Columbia, and DC.Gov represents the online presence of the local government rather than the federal presence. That means users won’t see national monuments or the Capitol or the White House when they visit the revamped DC.Gov. OCTO believed a simple, clean design best serves the visitor who comes to a government website primarily for information and services.
  • Key services. The featured services listed near the top of the page are based on a combination of Google analytics and a knowledge of upcoming needs and web activity – increasing the chances users will find the service they are looking for on the home page itself. A searchable view of all the services across all agency websites is linked from the home page for users who don’t find the service they are seeking on the home page.
  • “Sticky” menu. The top-level navigation is part of a “sticky” header, so the navigation stays on the page as the user scrolls down (along with the DC.Gov logo and the search function).
 
What is DC.Gov?
DC.Gov is the official web portal for District government information and services. Launched in 1999, the award-winning web portal has grown to include over 100 websites for District government agencies and topics ranging from sustainability to being an Age-Friendly City to the quadrennial presidential inauguration. It was selected as a 2013 Finalist (Top 10) government portal in the City Portal category by the Center for Digital Government.
 
DC.Gov's annual traffic is higher than many comparable municipalities and counties in terms of population, with over 14 million visitors making 29 million visits in 2013 (a 7 percent increase in visitors over 2012). Visitors include District residents and businesses, state and federal agencies, and visitors from the United States and abroad.
 
The District’s unique governmental status requires websites that address state, county and municipal functionality. The portal provides over 250 online applications (30 alone for the Department of Motor Vehicles) and more than 170 online forms, making it easier for District residents and businesses to transact business with their government. The portal reflects a strong commitment to transparency, open government, the integration of social media, accessibility and the thoughtful application of new web technology to serve the local residents of the District, such as the use of an open source CMS, responsive design and the increasing use of mobile apps.