Government Usability Case Studies

This list of government usability case studies shows how government sites, mobile apps and other products become more effective, more coherent and more usable by focusing on the User Experience of their customers.

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Environmental Protection Agency
Heat Mapping Case Study: Epa.gov Homepage

  • Use heatmapping to visualize data
  • Identifying underused sections
  • Discovering which links are really valuable
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Food and Drug Administration
API Usability Case Study: openFDA

  • Included Interactive Documentation
  • Supported Encryption
  • Clarify Terms and Provide Consistent Formatting
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General Services Administration
Consumer Action Handbook – Usability Case Study

  • Analyze user task flow
  • Test all navigation items before launch
  • Did their own testing in-house
  • Make error message helpful
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Department of Health and Human Services
Child Support Enforcement – Usability Case Study

  • Created a “Virtual” Focus Group
  • Used a mega-men to show more options early
  • Quick links for vital, high-frequency content
A chart of the Top-task process, outlining 5 steps: 1) List Tasks 2) Rank tasks 3) Card sort 4) First-click testing and 5) Homepage testing
Federal Reserve Board
Using Top Tasks to be Top-Notch – Usability Case Study

  • Review top tasks early
  • Test out Information Architecture via card sorts and tree tests
  • Repeat every 18-24 months
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National Archives and Records Administration
Improving Content, Increasing Participation – Usability Case Study

  • Create a participatory design process
  • Sort information by topic, not department
  • Retire old and unpopular content
A side-by-side heatmap comparison of the mobile and desktop versions of USA.gov
General Services Administration
Using Analytics to Create Change – USA.gov Usability Case Study

  • Make data-based decisions
  • Tell a compelling story
  • It’s not a sprint, so think long-term
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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Ocean Service — Usability Case Study

  • Reviewing analytics before doing user research
  • Did their own testing in-house
  • Did iterative (repeat) testing for maximum results
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Food and Drug Administration
Consumer Graphics — Usability Case Study

  • Created two versions of an infographic
  • Tested both with internal employees prior to launch
  • Removed unnecessary and confusing elements
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General Services Administration
Kids.gov — Usability Case Study

  • Did prototype testing to get early feedback
  • Did “First Click” testing to gain basic understanding of how customers think
  • Did iterative (repeat) testing for maximum results
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General Services Administration
Data.gov – Usability Case Study

  • Improve visibility of search and navigation
  • Made most popular “Community” content more prominent
  • Created an ongoing system of collecting usability feedback
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Department of Energy
Fueleconomy.gov – Usability Case Study

  • Simplified technical terms
  • Improved buttons with clearer names and better positioning
  • Added a “Learn More” button at bottom of the page
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Department of Justice
ATF.gov – Usability Case Study

  • Removed search autocomplete function, which was frustrating users
  • Moved important links to higher priority position on page
  • Increased font size to 10 points for better readability
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General Services Administration
Contractor Vehicle Navigator – Usability Case Study

  • Replaced jargon with plain language
  • Moved “Help” section to more visible location
  • Included “trackability” functionality in online forms
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Department of Commerce
Commerce Departmental Library – Usability Case Study

  • Revised navigation labels to make them more descriptive
  • Revised and re-organized information to clean up and de-clutter pages
  • Made text fonts and styles consistent throughout site
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eRulemaking Program Management Office
Regulations.gov – Usability Case Study

  • Made site search results easier to scan
  • Boosted prominence of important link for improved site navigation
  • Added more information about “Comments Received” function
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Department of Transportation
SaferBus Mobile Application – Usability Case Study

  • Added tagline to explain what people can do on this app
  • Changed design to make icons more “clickable”
  • Improved navigation by creating clearer icons
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General Services Administration
SAM.gov – Usability Case Study

  • Improved label descriptions for better navigation
  • Made main options—creating an account and registering an entity—clearly distinct
  • Defined purpose and scope of search box
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General Services Administration
Business.USA.gov – Usability Case Study

  • Added tagline to explain what people can do on this website
  • Improved “clickability” of menu items
  • Made Twitter icon more prominent
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Department of Defense
Army.mil – Usability Case Study

  • Prioritized information
  • Added “Quick Links” so users can find popular information quicker
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General Services Administration 
FedRAMP – Usability Case Study

  • Added new tagline on homepage to explain what FedRAMP does
  • Re-designed navigation based on user needs
  • Significantly reduced text on homepage for cleaner interface
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Internal Revenue Service
IRS.gov – Usability Case Study

  • Reduced list of links and revised descriptions
  • Grouped similar pages together based on audience segments
  • Replaced confusing acronyms with plain language
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General Services Administration
GSA Intranet (Insite) – Usability Case Study

  • Replaced revolving navigation bar with most important site links
  • Simplified acronyms and program names with plain language
  • Eliminated distracting animation
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Department of Interior
Office of Natural Resources Revenue – Usability Case Study

  • Replaced confusing “floating” links with clear navigation and easy-to-understand directions
  • Replaced jargon in main navigation with plain language
  • Placed new information in more prominent place on homepage
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National Science Foundation
NSF.gov – Usability Case Study

  • Used clear labeling to indicate reports with most recent data
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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Weather.gov – Usability Case Study

  • Simplified tabs on top of map; used plain language to guide casual users
  • Added “home” button to persistent menu for better navigation; moved agency logos to reduce confusion
  • Added graphics to highlight timely, relevant information
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