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ATF.gov – Usability Case Study

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has some really valuable information for the public that a lot of people search for on ATF.gov. It’s important that the information is easily and quickly accessible. Government agencies reach a wide audience with their information, so making sure everyone can understand your content is important.

The DigitalGov User Experience Program performed an expert usability evaluation of ATF.gov in December 2012. The team identified the following three major issues that could quickly be fixed to make the site more usable.

Problem 1: Autocomplete Search Results Not Accurate

The site search used autocomplete when the user pressed enter. The resulting search terms could be different from what was intended by the user.

Solution 1: Remove Autocomplete

The autocomplete function was removed from the search bar, so that the user gets exactly the search results they want.

Problem 2: Homepage Links Not In Order of Importance

The links on the right side of the homepage didn’t seem to be prioritized in order of importance and they were easy to overlook. For example, the link about smartphone apps is far less important than the strategic plan or other initiatives, but it was at the top of the page.

Links on the right side of the homepage are moved to the top, center area so they are more visible. Also, the links have been prioritized in order of importance. The large news picture has been taken out to make more room for the links and important, main–topic areas.

Problem 3: Font Size Too Small

The text size on some pages was too small and difficult for some users to read.

Solution 3: Increase Font Size

Text size was increased to at least 10 point font.

The redesigned ATF homepage presents a much more user–friendly and information–rich experience. The site is more visually appealing as well, and less daunting to new visitors.

Screenshot of ATF.gov after user testing.

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