Michelle Chronister

Michelle Chronister is the User Experience Team Lead for USA.gov at the U.S. General Services Administration. Prior to this position, she managed web content, search, and social media for USA.gov. Michelle has a BA in anthropology and a MS in library and information science. She is a former Presidential Management Fellow.

Informing the Future of the Federal Front Door

In our last post, we introduced the Federal Front Door project and briefly described a six-week discovery phase, in which we set out to better understand how the general public feels about and interacts with the federal government, so that we can design and build products that improve people’s experience across government agencies. We think of the federal front door as the places the public first interacts with their government.

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Journey Mapping the Customer Experience: A USA.gov Case Study

Journey maps are a visual representation of a customer’s end to end journey with your product or service. They are a powerful tool for exploring key interactions and experiences with your organization, programs, and/or services. Journey maps describe a customer’s entire journey, even the parts that occur before and after contact with your organization. They typically contain elements such as the customer’s attitudes, emotions, and needs. We recently updated USA.

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Using Personas to Better Understand Customers: USA.gov Case Study

Personas are fictional characters that describe an organization’s customer behaviors, emotions, attributes, motivations, and goals. They are an important tool to share customer insights and understanding across an organization. Personas also serve as a check to make sure your organization’s actions meet the needs of the majority of customers, including visitors to your website, contact center, in-person visits, and interactive voice response (IVR) self service customers. Why We Updated our Personas Personas aren’t new to USA.

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Go.USA.gov Creates Short, Trustworthy .gov URLs

Short URLs are useful for tracking clicks, but they can create a poor user experience because the person clicking the link can’t see the final destination. That’s why Go.USA.gov was created—to show users that they would reach official government information. To maintain this trust, Go.USA.gov is only open to government employees and only shortens government URLs—that is: .mil, .gov, .fed.us, .si.edu and .state.xx.us URLs. We are willing to make exceptions for other government URLs that meet our criteria.

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Using Analytics to Create Change: USA.gov Usability Case Study

While many people tout the death of the home page, it’s still an important piece of the user experience on USA.gov. In 2013, 30% of all sessions on USA.gov included the home page—that’s 8.67 million sessions. The numbers for GobiernoUSA.gov are even higher—79% of all sessions included the home page. According to Jakob Nielsen, “A homepage has two main goals: to give users information, and to provide top-level navigation to additional information inside the site.

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New Go.USA.gov Features: Search Your URLs, Add Notes, New Bookmarklet, and More

You can now log in to Go.USA.gov with your username or email address, one of the new improvements added to the government URL shortener. Previously you could only log in with your username. You can now: Log in with your username or email address Search your short URLs Add notes to short URLs Shorten URLs from your browser with the bookmarklet Download improved CSV exports Use the API to get all short URLs from your account Learn about the new features, other minor changes, and known issues.

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Gov URL Shorteners and How to Use Them

USA.gov offers two different types of URL shorteners – 1.USA.gov and Go.USA.gov. No matter which URL shortener you use, there are some usability, accessibility, and SEO issues you should keep in mind. 1.USA.gov 1.USA.gov is powered by bitly.com and open to everyone. If you go to bitly.com and shorten a .gov or .mil URL, you will get a 1.USA.gov short URL. This is a free service and you do not need to register for an account.

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Understanding Your Users’ Needs By Analyzing Search Terms

Analyzing your visitors’ search terms can help you better understand their needs. It can provide valuable data about the content and organization of the content on your site. Create a Semi-Automated Report of Terms Here’s how to create a semi-automated report for analyzing large amounts of search data on a regular basis. A human still needs to review the data for changes and new trends, but this process can save a lot of time once you have a solid understanding of the data and the spreadsheet functions in place.

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Better Performance and Metric Downloads Now Available From Go.USA.gov

A few weeks ago, the Go.USA.gov URL shortener introduced several new features to improve the user experience. Go.USA.gov now offers users faster speeds and downloadable metric information about their links. The service, which launched in 2009, gives government agencies the ability to provide trustworthy shortened links to their audience. Just a few weeks ago, we finished completely re-engineering the back-end of the site to fix the slow speeds. Additionally, the back-end improvements have allowed us to re-enable the CSV export function that was taken offline back in 2010.

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What We’ve Learned: Three Years of Answering Questions on Social Media

USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov have been engaging with the public on social media long before Mayor Cory Booker underscored the need at this year’s SXSW. In January 2010, we began to respond to questions and comments on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We never advertised the service, but people naturally had questions for the government and we answered — to the tune of more than 300 questions in 2010. Not long after we started answering questions, it became clear that our two-person pilot program wasn’t robust enough to keep up with demand, so we instituted a more formal, but flexible system.

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How Kids Search

Kids and adults use Web search tools differently. Kids fail more often, because they often don’t have enough knowledge or experience to search using the right keywords, or understand search results. If you’re designing websites for kids, remember that they use search tools differently than adults. Kids prefer surfing over searching. If kids can’t easily find what they want, they will likely: Miss important content Become frustrated Leave your website and not come back Help Kids Search Successfully If you’re thinking about putting a customized search engine just for kids on your site, you should understand how kids use search engines.

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