Responsive Web Design

A Conversation With ITIF About the State of Federal Government Websites

At the beginning of 2017, the ITIF (Information Technology and Innovation Foundation) released a report that benchmarked 300 federal websites in four areas: page-load speed, mobile friendliness, security and accessibility. Some sites fared better than others, but the report highlighted that our federal sites have a ways to go (DigitalGov included) in these areas. Looking at these four metrics is important as they directly impact our customers’ first perceptions of the quality of our government’s digital services.

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Fractal and Federalist Join the U.S. Web Design Standards

We’ve recently added two powerful tools to the U.S. Web Design Standards development workflow that allow us to preview, test, and publish the Standards code more quickly and easily. Fractal Fractal is a powerful and flexible framework for building interactive component libraries. It’s similar to Jekyll (which we use to publish the Standards site) in one key respect: It operates primarily on simple file naming conventions. Organize your files in a specific way, using the content and data formats it understands, and it will generate a web site automatically.

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The New FEC.gov

Last week, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) unveiled their new website at FEC.gov. This new site is the result of a years-long collaboration with GSA’s 18F and features completely revamped tools for exploring campaign finance data. It provides user-centered content for understanding the reporting and compliance requirements for people participating in federal elections, redesigned tools for exploring legal resources, and more. Why it matters On the agency’s “About the FEC” page, it says, “The FEC was created to promote confidence and participation in the democratic process.

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The Data Briefing: How to Best Prepare Federal Government Datasets for Chatbots

Forbes magazine recently ran an article showcasing six handy mobile apps that were built using federal government open data. The apps range from the Alternative Fueling Station Locator to ZocDoc (a doctor locator). What I especially like about the Forbes article is that the author describes the federal government data sets behind each app. There are many more mobile apps built by federal government agencies or using federal government data sources.

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How the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Uses the U.S. Web Design Standards

As mentioned in our recent Q&A with the team at NASA, the U.S. Web Design Standards team is sitting down with various agencies that are using the Standards. In this second post in our series, we met with the team at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and learned how they used the Standards to train, develop, and design their various websites and applications. Standards team: Why did you decide to use the U.

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NASA’s Journey With the U.S. Web Design Standards

The U.S. Web Design Standards were created by the government, for the government. They’re currently implemented on hundreds of government sites, with an audience of more than 26 million monthly users. They’ve also been recommended by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for all government agencies to ensure a consistent look and feel of their public-facing digital services. Over the coming months, the team will be doing a series of blog posts to share information about the how different agencies are using the Standards.

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New ITIF Report Inspires a Closer Look at Website Performance and Security—Here Is Where to Begin

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) recently published a report, Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites, that looks at the performance, security, and accessibility of the top 297 government websites. ITIF is a think tank in Washington, D.C. whose mission is to formulate, evaluate, and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation in technology and public policy. Over the past 90 days, government websites were visited over 2.55 billion times. According to the Analytics Dashboard, 43.

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U.S. Web Design Standards Releases Version 1.0

The U.S. Web Design Standards are a library of design guidelines and code to help government developers quickly create trustworthy, accessible, and consistent digital government services. Last month, we announced the 1.0 release of the Standards, a milestone that signals the Standards are a stable, trustworthy resource for government designers and developers. By using the well-tested and easy-to-implement code from the Standards, developers can quickly create new websites or have a leg-up in updating existing services to have a modern, consistent feel.

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Trends on Tuesday: Signs of the App-ocalypse

A new report from the Mobile Ecosystem Forum shows that most users delete apps because of security concerns. The report also said that 47% of survey respondents would pay extra for an app that didn’t share personal information and that the inability to find a privacy policy is one of the leading reasons for consumers losing trust in an app. Privacy requirements aren’t just a “nice to have” for government agencies; including a privacy policy in all of your digital sites and apps is a new requirement from OMB Circular A-130 that was recently released.

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The Data Briefing: Mobile Apps, Responsive Web Sites, and the “Mobile Moment”

The debate between responsive websites and mobile apps took a decisive turn this week when the United Kingdom’s Digital Service (UKDS) banned the creation of mobile apps. In an interview with GovInsider, the founder of UKDS, Ben Terrett, explained that mobile apps were too expensive to build and maintain. Responsive websites were easier to build and updating the application only requires changing one platform. “For government services that we were providing, the web is a far far better way… and still works on mobile,” Terrett said.

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Welcome to the New DHS.gov

Today, I am happy to announce the newly optimized DHS.gov website. Over the past year, DHS has worked behind the scenes to update and modernize our flagship website, making it faster and easier to use. Some of the specific differences you’ll see are: Compatibility for both desktop computers and mobile devices (phones and tablets) Cleaner, easier-to-read site format and presentation Faster and more accurate site navigation using our internal search function and external search engines (like Google and Bing) DHS.

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The Data Briefing: An Interview with USAJOBS on New Changes to Their Data Services

The Office of Personnel Management released a new look and functionality to USAJOBS in February. I recently contacted Michelle Earley, the USAJOBS Program Manager, to ask about the changes to USAJOBS and the data it provides. 1. What are the priorities this year for the USAJOBS team and the site? “The priorities for this year include: Unifying the experience Incorporating a comprehensive content strategy to transform the readability of the website Improving the Job Opportunity Announcement (Represents the agency) Improving the User Profile (Represents the job seeker/applicant) Improving Search, which is the mechanism that brings together the job seekers and agencies USAJOBS hopes to continue to act as a trusted public service career platform that creates a responsive and transparent experience for its users.

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Trends on Tuesday: As Mobile and Desktop Email Open Rates Converge, Responsive Sites Are Crucial

A new report about email usage reinforced the importance of always building responsive websites. Yesmail’s quarterly report showed that mobile and desktop email click-to-open rates are converging to almost the same level for the first time ever. As people become more mobile-first and mobile-only users of the Internet, users opening emails on their desktop devices has dropped continuously for the past 2 years, from 22.6% to 15.3%. The report from Yesmail states: “The results certainly support the argument for responsive design,” as those who used responsive design in all of their emails had:

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The Data Briefing: Mobile Websites or Mobile Apps or Both?

The increasing sophistication of mobile devices has created many opportunities for developers. Thanks to APIs* and open data, developers can build thousands of mobile apps and mobile websites to meet users’ needs. This opportunity has created one of the most contentious debates in the mobile development community: mobile apps versus mobile websites? There is, yet, no solution to the debate. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both types of mobile solutions.

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Trends on Tuesday: Facebook and Google Products Dominate App Usage

Comscore released new data this month about trends in the smartphone space. The data showed that the Android platform grew in market percentage (when combining all Android manufacturers). Android overall grew 1% from September to December at the cost of Apple and Blackberry, which dropped 0.7% and 0.3%, respectively, in smartphone market share. Comscore’s data on the most popular mobile applications showed Facebook and Google properties continue to dominate usage, with the top seven spots owned by the two corporation’s app properties.

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Trends on Tuesday: 10 Mobile, Government and Tech Trends for 2016

As we move into 2016, here are 10 trends I foresee flourishing around mobile, technology and government: The mobile-majority tipping point in government. Many agencies are already past this point, but as a whole, government websites are still desktop-majority, with 66% of people accessing federal websites via desktop and 34% on mobile. In 2016, the double-digit mobile growth will continue to accelerate and surpass 50% for almost all agencies. (Much of the Web passed this point last year or in 2014, btw).

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Trends on Tuesday: Adobe Moves Beyond Flash

Half a decade since Steve Jobs declared war on Adobe Flash and refused to support it on Apple’s mobile and tablet devices, Flash is finally losing its crown as one of the stand-alone products of Adobe. In the announcement, Adobe said, “Flash has played a leading role in bringing new capabilities to the Web. From audio and animation, to interactivity and video, Flash has helped push the Web forward.

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GSA.gov Refreshed with Eye Toward Mobile Users

GSA unveiled a refreshed GSA.gov website yesterday with a more crisp design layout, improved usability, and features geared more toward mobile users. Increasingly, website traffic is coming from mobile users. With this in mind, GSA unveiled a newly refreshed GSA.gov website on Nov. 16. “Our ultimate goal for the refresh was to continue our work to get important government information into the hands of users–no matter how or where they’re accessing the information,” said Sarah Bryant, Director of GSA’s Enterprise Web Management Team within the Office of Communications and Marketing.

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Trends on Tuesday: 5 Tips for Designing Touch Interactions

Josh Clark, one of the pioneers of touch Web design, and author of Tapworthy and Designing for Touch, published an excellent article on A List Apart analyzing How We Hold Our Gadgetsthat has a wealth of data and graphics about this interesting and emerging design challenge. Below are 5 notable lessons from the post: 1. Portrait (vertical) orientation dominates over landscape (horizontal) usage with a 60-40 split. This is often driven by the app or content experience and will probably continue to grow more divided as many applications now aren’t even offering landscape orientations anymore—including Facebook, Flipboard, Instagram, Pandora, even Netflix (on Android, however, along with video playback, Netflix’s library browsing mode can still be viewed horizontally).

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Texting is Another Way to Make Mobile Moments

There are several things federal agencies need to think about in the mobile space. Is my website responsive, so that consumers can view it on any device (desktop/laptop, tablet, smartphone)? Do I have mobile apps that fill citizen needs? But does texting have a place in the U.S. government, as we strive to serve citizens where THEY are? Here are at least 9 factors you need to consider, according to GovDelivery, and Forrester analysts Art Schoeller and Thomas Husson:

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National Cancer Institute’s Smokefree Tools

Went a little too far with a bad habit? Do you or someone you love have difficulty putting down the cancer sticks? The National Cancer Institute has developed a triple threat to help kick this issue for good with an app, responsively-designed website and SMS program to help lead the way to a healthier life! The quitSTART app is free and available to everyone, though tailored to teens.

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Trends on Tuesday: How Much Does It Cost to Go Mobile?

A penny saved is a penny earned. But spending your pennies on mobile development is necessary to meet 21st century needs. Regardless of how you plan to create that awesome anytime, anywhere mobile experience, it’s going to cost you. While the most obvious parts of the mobile price tag for native app development are initial development and launch, the long term maintenance of the app must also be considered.

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Mobile Content: Less is More

With 14 test cycles under our belt, the Federal CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program has heard one recurring theme from our testers—”there’s too much information!” While both desktop monitor and smartphone screen sizes are growing, there is still no comparison. At our desks, many of us are using a 24 inch (or even bigger) monitor. How big is your smart phone? Way smaller than a desktop monitor. The user will have a radically different experience on a desktop, and they are usually expecting a different experience.

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Help Us Add Resources to the Updated Mobile User Experience Guidelines!

Government agencies need to make sure their mobile websites and native apps don’t become one of the estimated billions of applications that end up in the app graveyard. The need for digital products to work better is not new in the federal government. Resources like the Digital Playbook and Public Participation Playbook have had impact helping agencies become user-friendly and both of these resources note the importance of developing usable products for mobile users.

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The Content Corner: Create Better Mobile Content

All content needs to be developed with a mobile-first strategy, from headline choice to paragraph length. Although we are all now living in a post-mobilegeddon world, many of us are still implementing a mobile strategy. This strategy should consider several factors, including viewport size, cellular versus WiFi considerations, and load times. It should also include a review of existing content and a rethinking of new content, down to what I will call the “cellular” level (no pun intended).

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The Emulator Dilemma: Can Mobile Device Testing Be Completed Without Mobile Devices?

Government agencies have created a variety of apps to meet the needs of the public. As you join in on the mobile first trend and begin developing your shiny new mobile application, you will need to test it. There are a basic set of questions that must be answered: Does it function properly? Does it function properly on the different mobile devices your customers are using? Do all developers and testers need a collection of devices to physically test the application with?

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Helpful Resources to Make Your Content Mobile-Friendly

Smartphones make up 75% of the mobile market—which makes mobile-friendliness a must for government agencies. With the recent update to Google’s search algorithm, or what some are calling Mobilegeddon, the case for building a mobile-friendly site becomes even stronger. For many government organizations, responsive Web design (RWD) has been the answer to their mobile question. While RWD is by no means a panacea, it can provide agencies with a way to reach their customers on many devices with one site.

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Mobile-Friendly Park Websites on NPS.gov

Park websites on NPS.gov from A (Acadia) to Z (Zion) are now mobile-friendly. Visitors using phones and tablets to visit national park websites now have a user-friendly experience to enhance their virtual visits. Previously, visitors using mobile devices saw a smaller version of the website scaled to fit the size of their screen. Now, the content will adjust to fit small screens while providing the same functionality available to those visiting the site using a desktop or laptop.

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Mobilegeddon: Government Edition

Much is being said and written about the coming Mobilegeddon/Mopocalypse on April 21st—the day Google’s ranking algorithm will begin boosting results for mobile-friendly sites and penalizing mobile-unfriendly sites. While some agency websites are mobile-friendly, a great many are not. We will do well to pay attention—almost 25% of traffic on government websites is coming from mobile devices. And if responding to the UX needs of 25% of site visitors is not enough argument, perhaps the Google algorithm update will convince agencies that it’s time to upgrade.

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Multiple Languages, Single Platforms: the World Digital Library

Multilingual does not always mean multiple accounts or websites. Increasingly, multilingual content is delivered in an integrated way, with two (or more!) languages delivered on the same website, app, or social media platform. The World Digital Library (WDL) is one example of how multiple languages can be incorporated on single platforms. The WDL is a hub for cultural artifacts that includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, photographs, sound recordings, and films.

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Trends on Tuesday: Smartphone Market Growth Makes Mobile-Friendly a Must

ComScore reported last week that smartphones now make up a whopping 75% of the mobile market. That’s up from 65% just one year ago. This means three-quarters of Americans over the age of 13 now have smartphones, and they are accessing government services with them more and more. This is an undeniable fact because earlier this month the White House announced the Digital Analytics Dashboard. The announcement noted the importance of mobile-friendliness, stating that the Dashboard showed 33% of all traffic to federal sites over a 90-day period came from people using phones and tablets.

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The New FedRAMP.gov Is Here

On Wednesday, March 11, FedRAMP unveiled a redesigned FedRAMP.gov. The new site focuses on user experience that fosters a better understanding of FedRAMP from basic knowledge, to in-depth program requirements and includes the launch of a training program. User experience is at the heart of the website redesign. Using feedback from customer interviews, the new FedRAMP.gov is easily navigable and helps visitors: Understand FedRAMP and its strategic direction Quickly find current templates and other key documents Access educational opportunities and information on FedRAMP events The FedRAMP team addressed these objectives and many others developing the website.

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Data, Code, and API Event Round Up

DigitalGov University has hosted some great events over the last year in partnership with Data.gov, the MobileGov Community and 18F to bring you information on opening data and building APIs. This month we’ve rounded up the events over the past year so that you can see what’s been offered. Use the comments below to offer up suggestions on what else you’d like to see on the schedule.

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Trends on Tuesday: Google to Implement Mobile-Friendly Rankings

As the use of smartphones continues to grow, it has become even more important for websites to be mobile-friendly. Google has been aware of this trend for quite some time. In response to this trend, Google made it a lot simpler for users to see mobile-friendly websites within search results by the use of a mobile-friendly tag back in November. In order to assist the anytime, anywhere user, Google will begin ranking mobile-friendly sites higher in search results in April.

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Trends on Tuesday: Mobile Web Lessons From the CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program

Practice makes perfect. But in the mobile world, it’s testing that makes products better. For federal agencies that have developed their own apps or mobile-friendly sites, the CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program offers a simple way to collect feedback on compatibility testing. Since the program’s inception in March 2013, eight federal mobile websites (including responsive design) have been tested by 65 federal employees from 41 agencies. The benefits are twofold: agencies receive actionable feedback about their mobile websites, and testers gain valuable knowledge about mobile websites that they can share with their own agencies.

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Building Brick by Brick: Ed.gov’s Website Redesign and Mobile Implementation

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are website redesigns. In line with the piecemeal responsive Web design implementation trend we recently highlighted, the new Ed.gov website redesign happened in three phases. In this case, budget limitations and existing content management systems (CMSs) influenced the decision-making process. “We use three different CMSs,” said Jill James, Web director at the Department of Education. “We timed the phases of our redesigns with technical upgrades that we needed to do anyway.

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Trends on Tuesday: Smartphone Growth Reaches 1.3 Billion in 2014

Smartphone adoption rate continues to rise, but the screen sizes users adopt continue to evolve. According to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone vendors shipped a total of 375.2 million units during the fourth quarter of 2014. IDC states that this was an increase of more than 25%, compared to the fourth quarter in 2013. For the full year, IDC says the worldwide smartphone market saw a total of 1.

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Trends on Tuesday: Using SMS for Customer Support

Don’t forget, mobile first strategy can include text messaging and SMS, not just native apps and responsive Web design. Ninety percent of all SMS messages are read within three minutes of being received, according to a recent blog post on Gigaom. Paired with an average open rate of 98% (versus 22% for email) and the fact that any mobile device out there is able to read a text message, SMS is a great way to reach out to pretty much anyone.

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New Ed.gov Homepage and More

You may have noticed we launched our new Ed.gov homepage today. This completes the third and final phase of our visual refresh for our main website. We released the second phase of the refresh back in June. So, what’s new? Streamlined Homepage The new homepage takes our efforts to streamline navigation on the website one big step further. There are fewer links and more open space on the homepage.

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Trends On Tuesday: Responsive Web Design Implementation Happening Piecemeal

Approximately 18% of websites have implemented Responsive Web Design, according to the audit of websites Guy Podjarny completed in November. That’s more than 7% growth since his previous audit in January 2014. That number may seem low with the popularity of Responsive Web Design and the preference of mobile websites from users, but implementing responsive Web design is not as easy at it seems. In a report last year, Forrester found that “few organizations have the budget or risk appetite to ‘responsify’ all of their Web assets in one fell swoop.

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The Best E-gov Websites in the World

In Design Secrets of the World’s Best e-Government Web Sites, the Asia-Pacific online communications powerhouse FutureGov singles out eight national e-government portals as the best-designed in the world, and identifies the best practices these sites exemplify. “Ultimately, these websites are the best in the world because they are designed to be practical, simple, quick and adaptable,” writes Joshua Chambers, editor of FirstGov Digital. “One core principle stands out above all others: a well-designed government website must make it as easy as possible for citizens to find the information and services that they need.

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Defense Finance Accounting Services Use HHS Code to Make Mobile-Friendly Tables

Government mobile code developed to help make tables mobile-friendly in one agency has now been used in another agency’s mobile efforts. Last month, Clair Koroma told DigitalGov readers about code that the Department of Health and Human Services had developed to make website tables mobile-friendly and then HHS shared it on the Mobile Code Sharing Catalog. Debra Fiorrito from the Defense Financial Accounting Service and her developer, Todd Posius, have implemented the code on the DFAS.

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Trends on Tuesday: Speed Matters When Measuring Responsive Web Design Performance Load Times

In the mobile world, every second matters. Mobile users are a finicky bunch. They want their information anytime, anywhere and quickly. As members of the MobileGov Community of Practice have noted last year, mobile user experience is about emotion. If that emotion is not happy, you will lose the user. For this month’s DigitalGov user experience theme, we decided to talk about how speed can be a key to a user’s happiness.

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HHS Conquers Tables in a Responsive Design

This year, we moved HHS.gov to a responsive template to ensure that users accessing our site in a mobile environment had the best possible experience. Our department faced several challenges in moving a site the size of HHS.gov into a responsive template and one of those challenges surrounded our need to make tables work in a responsive environment. Because of the nature of the information our department provides to the public, our use of tables is an integral part of how we communicate information.

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Trends on Tuesday: 8 Ways To Format Tables for Responsive Web Design

Making tables, charts and graphs mobile friendly is like squeezing 10 pounds of sugar into a 5 pound bag. Mobile Gov Community of Practice member Debra Fiorrito from the Defense Accounting and Financing Service recently highlighted this challenge in her responsive Web design implementation. The challenge also came up during a call with the Federal Mobile Crowdsource Testing Program when discussing photo carousels. David Fern, from the Social Security Administration, Clair Koroma, from the Department of Health and Human Services, and Beth Martin, from the Federal Aviation Administration, researched the topic to see what current approaches there are and found eight ways organizations are making charts and graphs mobile friendly.

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Web Design Changes? Let the Metrics be Your Guide

On September 6, 2013 at 11:27 p.m., EDT., viewers tuned in through the Internet to watch NASA launch its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft. As viewers logged onto the website, something unusual happened. For the first time, metrics indicated that NASA.gov’s mobile users outpaced their desktop users. 93 percent of their viewers were watching the launch from a mobile device. At the time, NASA Web managers were already considering changing their website.

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Responsive Web Design Challenges Webinar Recap

A website redesign is never an easy task, but when responsiveness is one of your redesign’s key goals, special considerations come into play that can present unique challenges. In the September webinar on Responsive Web Design Challenges in Government, we heard from two agencies who identified coordination, leadership buy-in and content decisions when mobilizing their websites. Marissa Newhall, acting director of the Office of Digital Strategy and Communications at the Department of Energy (DOE), shared the reasons for going responsive with the energy.

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Welcome to Mobile Gov Month on DigitalGov

What’s your mobile itch? A long time ago at a workshop not so far away…we asked the 40 federal government innovators who had released native apps this question. We wanted to know their biggest barriers, challenges, frustrations to building anytime, anywhere government. Their generosity in telling us those pain points informed 2011’s Making Mobile Gov Project, which identified 10 challenges to implementing mobile apps and responsive websites for public audiences in the federal government.

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No More Beta in Congress.gov’s Responsive Website

Congress.gov ushered in the new fiscal year by removing the beta label from its URL two years after it launched. During this period, the Library of Congress not only extensively tested how the site would display on any device, but in a series of releases and enhancements, completely transformed the ability to find legislative information as the successor to THOMAS. With Congress.gov you can now find information via: A resources section with an A-Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress An improved Advanced Search capability with 30 new fields available to construct increasingly detailed and intricate searches that you can then save.

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Trends on Tuesday: Avoid the Testing Black Hole

Remember the Golden Age of Web development? A time long ago when there were only five desktop browsers to support, a few different screen sizes and every user connected via broadband? Well, those days are over. With the advent of mobile Web implementations like responsive Web design, there are three times the number of browsers working on many different-sized devices with varying operating systems and connection speeds. Trying to tackle all of these factors quickly becomes a testing nightmare.

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Trends on Tuesday: The Mobile Tipping Point?

The International Data Corporation (IDC) is forecasting a strong outlook for smartphone sales during the remaining months of 2014. They predict more than 1.25 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide before the end of the year. Just 24 hours after going on sale last Friday, the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus broke prior Apple presale records with 4 million units purchased. Reading these stats I couldn’t help but ask, “Are we at a mobile tipping point?

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Strategy Pivot Yields Results: DigitalGov.Gov Six Months Later

Six months ago, we launched this DigitalGov.gov platform to support federal agencies in delivering 21st century digital services and information to the public. It seems a good time to share some of the thinking that went into the development of the platform, and what we’ve learned so far. Looking back, we knew we had great content for digital innovators. Here at the Center for Digital Government at GSA, we created the go-to references for federal agencies around Web, mobile, social media, challenges and prizes, and were growing API content.

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Trends on Tuesday: Are only 11% of Websites Responsive?

Roughly 1 in 9 (11%) websites have adopted responsive Web design, according to research conducted by Guy Podjarny in January. While the number has risen in the last 7 months, I know you’re probably a little underwhelmed by that number. But if you are one of the agencies that have gone through the process of developing a responsive site, you are aware of the challenges that can often get in the way of progress.

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Open Source Content Management Systems and Responsive Web Design Webinar Recap

Most of us in the DigitalGov community recognize that responsive Web design is one approach to mobile first and most of us have a pretty clear picture of what it means—a responsive website will adjust to different devices, and the content will neatly change its layout from one screen size to another. But do you know how it happens? Would you know how to implement responsive Web design in your agency?

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Member Spotlight – Jill James, Dept. of Education

Welcome to the first edition of a new series of articles spotlighting members of our Government Web Manager Community. This month, we introduce Jill James, who’s the Senior Web Editor/Director for the Department of Education, in their Communications and Outreach Office. We asked Jill a few questions about her work at Dept. of Ed, as well as her life outside of work, and we’re happy for the chance to get to know her better!

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Solving a MobileGov Mystery: Using Open Source CMS to Implement Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web design is widely-known as a go-to solution for designing a website to fit on any device’s screen size. As we found in our February workshop, federal agencies are implementing it for various reasons. There are various ways to implement responsive design. Some agencies have implemented it via structured data and content modeling and others have completely redesigned their website. Agencies who are not yet at that point are looking for ways they can begin.

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FEMA’s Responsive Disaster Assistance Website Helps Survivors Find, Apply for Aid

Hurricane Arthur, the first named storm of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, made landfall in North Carolina, July 3, as a Category 2 hurricane. It was no Sandy, but Arthur nevertheless reminds us to be prepared now and always. As we say at NOAA, “It only takes one.” That “one” could be a hurricane or wildfire or any disaster or extreme event. If after a disaster you find yourself with only a mobile device in hand as your most convenient or sole Internet access point, a redesigned FEMA website might come as a small bit of relief.

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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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The API Briefing: The Census Bureau’s Discovery Tool – Find the Right API for Your App

The Census Bureau recently released a “machine-readable dataset discovery service” that lists 41 Census data sets. It’s in spreadsheet form and gives a description of the datasets along with links to the API and developer documentation. What makes the discovery service machine readable is that’s based on Project Open Data’s “Common Core Metadata Schema” that uses a standard way to describe and index government information sources. The discovery service makes it easier for developers to find and mix different APIs together to create sophisticated apps.

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CDC’s Digital Front Door Goes Responsive

Ask, and you shall receive. That was the strategy behind the new homepage from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new CDC.gov homepage debuted last month with a responsive design that offers a “one-site-fits-all” experience based on feedback from you, the public. Before setting out on their journey of Web redesign, the CDC team sorted through satisfaction survey and traffic data from more than 10,000 users who came to CDC.

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Defense Finance and Accounting Service Goes Responsive

Let’s face it: Some of us work to live. Some live to work. And all of us look forward to pay day. If you work for the Department of Defense, the Executive Office of the President, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services or the Broadcasting Board of Governors, chances are that you are one of 6.

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Because It’s Hard

Two years ago, federal agencies were set on a fast track to create a 21st century digital government. The Federal Digital Strategy served up a heaping set of deliverables on a tight timeline. Agencies opened data sets, built mobile apps and websites, published APIs, created and updated digital governance structures, and joined with other agencies in measuring digital services performance. Last May, as the final deadlines were met, some asked, “What’s next?

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Department of Treasury’s HelpWithMyBank.gov Goes Responsive

As the rapper Notorious B.I.G. aptly noted in his hit song, “Mo Money” brings “Mo Problems.” Especially when you run up against confusing policies or questionable actions by large national banks and financial institutions. Now it’s easier than ever to get your questions answered and troubleshoot your banking issues on-the-go with the mobile-optimized www.HelpWithMyBank.gov from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The site, which has been formatted into responsive design, serves a variety of screen types—from smartphones to tablets to laptops and desktop monitors.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection Launches New, Mobile Friendly Website

There’s a LOT going on at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and you don’t want to miss it: Seizures of illegal drug and counterfeit cash. Arrests of human smugglers. Even the interception of imported “pests” (most recently, a new slug found in the Washington area that goes by the name of Pallifera sp) by CBP agriculture specialists. Who knew? Thanks to a mobile-optimized and redesigned www.cbp.gov, now you can get all the latest CBP news, videos, photos, pest interceptions and more—30,000 pieces of content in all, so far—from any smartphone or tablet.

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Why Go Responsive? Here’s What Feds Are Saying

Responsive Web design implementations in the federal government have members of the Mobile Gov Community of Practice asking what is responsive Web design and how do we do it? In February, the Mobile Gov Community of Practice hosted a workshop with more than 40 feds from 19 agencies to answer these questions. This article is the first in a series of articles and events to highlight what we learned at the workshop and explore related topics agencies need to consider when implementing this technology.

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Trends on Tuesday: Tablet Ownership Steadily Increasing

Tablet ownership continues to rise, 44% of Americans now owning one, according to Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) December 2013 estimates. Other interesting findings include: Exactly half of American adults now own either a tablet or an e-reader. 7 in 10 online consumers expect to buy a tablet sometime in the near future, according to the CEA research. What is also interesting to note is that a shift toward smaller tablet screens is occurring.

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DigitalGov Search is Now Responsive

We’ve redesigned our mobile search results page. It now uses a card-based design and is responsive. This design gives searchers a more consistent user experience and access to the results anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Take a sneak peek of the new responsive results page. Go to USA.gov (or your website) from any mobile phone or tablet and do a search. See the sample results page for a search on passports on USA.

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Department of Education goes responsive (again) with FSA’s new Financial Aid Toolkit

Money for college? It’s never too early — or too late, for that matter — to start schooling oneself in the possibilities of federal financial aid. Following in the footsteps of their StudentAid.gov website, the digital team at Ed.gov’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) closed out 2013 with the launch of FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov, a “sister” site featuring a flexible, easy-to-access responsive design. What StudentAid.ed.gov is to students, the new FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov is to guidance counselors, “college access professionals,” nonprofit mentors, community organizations, volunteers and others.

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Trends on Tuesday: Distracted Walking

Piggybacking on one of my earlier posts, People are Crazy about Mobile, I’m going to talk about “Distracted Walking.” Who among us hasn’t walked and texted or checked Facebook or Twitter on our smartphones, but have bumped into someone or something while texting on your smartphone? I know I am guilty of that. Maybe you’ve seen this viral video of a woman who, distracted by Facebook on her phone, fell into a fountain.

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NOAA’s National Ocean Service Goes Responsive

Let’s ponder this for a moment: Maybe you live in South Florida. Maybe the weather is warm, beautiful, sunny. Maybe you’re looking forward to a few days of boating while the rest of the country battles ice storms, snow drifts and various states of emergency. (We can dream, can’t we?) But before you venture out onto that blue paradise, you probably need a few important items to ensure smooth sailing.

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Responsive Web Design Workshop: Why, How and What’s Next?

Responsive web design has been a beacon of light in the darkness of mobile strategy for many federal agencies. Many agencies have implemented it and many others are exploring this approach to Mobile Gov. There are still many other questions about responsive web design and it’s time to provide some illumination. Next Thursday, February 6, we are providing an opportunity for agencies to talk about these questions. At our Responsive Web Design Workshop: Why, How and What’s Next?

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Energy.gov goes Responsive

Did this week’s polar vortex wreak havoc on your heating and cooling system? Maybe now you’re in the hunt for a new furnace or looking for more efficient ways to keep warm? Just in time for the epic deep freeze, the team at the Department of Energy has created a much improved web experience for users of their Energy Saver and other popular programs with the launch of a shiny new version of Energy.

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Trends on Tuesday: Federal Agency Mobile Gov Trends in 2013

Today we want to tell you about the federal agency trends we saw this year in the development of public facing mobile products. Digital Government Strategy drove Mobile Gov Development Digital Government Strategy milestone 7.2 required agencies to implement two public facing mobile products in May. The White House highlighted these agency mobile product implementations. Responsive Design Proliferated. During the summer and fall a number of agencies like the Department of State, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, USA.

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FDA.gov Goes Responsive

It’s late at night. Your child can’t sleep: She has some kind of virus. You reach for a bottle of over-the-counter infant fever reducer you bought recently. But wait, you say to yourself: Didn’t I hear on the news something about a recall? Which brand was that again? Thanks to the digital team at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, you now have access to the latest drug and food product recalls the agency oversees right at your fingertips thanks to their new mobile-friendly FDA.

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Mobile Product Compatibility and Functional Testing 101

As covered in the Mobile Product Testing Guidelines article, there are various approaches to mobile testing. This article is a resource of the Federal CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program and focuses on two common test types are compatibility testing and functional testing. Compatibility Testing The Wikipedia article on compatibility testing states the “Compatibility testing, part of software non-functional tests, is testing conducted on the application to evaluate the application’s compatibility with the computing environment.

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State Department Mobile Site Goes Responsive

The Department of State has updated their mobile website m.state.gov with responsive design. The site auto-detects mobile devices and displays the State mobile site by default. State’s mobile site provides the latest foreign policy information from the State Department. Included are recent stories from the Secretary’s travels, the daily press briefing, country fact sheets, human rights reports, and more. Responsive design is becoming a popular means of creating a single site that can display nicely on a range of device sizes.

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Mobile First

Mobile First is the idea that web sites should first be designed for mobile devices, including only those tasks/items that website visitors use most. Then as screen real estate increases, add in tasks/features as needed based on user priority. This means the site will work (to some degree) on that shiny new web-enabled gizmo sitting under your neighbor’s Christmas tree 4 years from now. Allows websites to reach more people (77% of the world’s population has a mobile device, 85% of phones sold in 2011 equipped with browser) Forces designers to focus on core content and functionality (What do you do when you lose 80% of your screen real estate?

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How’s My Waterway?: A Mobile Optimized Site from the EPA

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has upgraded its ‘How’s My Waterway?’ website into a responsive design website, meaning it is available on any screen size: desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Now anytime, anywhere, the public will be able to check the condition of their local waterways. The site uses geolocation to determine the closest waterways to the user. Then, using the EPA’s database of “State water quality monitoring reports provided under the Clean Water Act,” the site provides information on the local waterways’ pollution status (unpolluted vs polluted), type (including acidity, PCBs, pesticides, etc.

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Embracing Responsive Design

There has been a shift in consumer behavior during the last few years, a move toward immediacy and convenience, and with the responsive redesign of USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov, consumers can now have access to the same information and services when they need them, and on any platform and device. The number of mobile users is growing rapidly. In 2012 USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov received more than 2.5 million visits from mobile devices, not including tablets.

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HUD Office of Inspector General Responsive Design Website

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has developed a responsive design website for the HUD Office of Inspector General. The website provides: news, the latest reports and publications, locations to field offices, and more. Whether you are using a smart phone, tablet, or other mobile device, the screen automatically adjusts to your device’s screen size making it very user friendly and easy to navigate. The site, developed in Drupal, provides all the essentials needed to quickly direct the user to where it is they wish to go, without limiting the content.

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How to Create Open, Structured Content

Structured content refers to the concept of organizing and treating digital content like data. It’s a way of publishing content as modular, discrete pieces of information that are tagged with machine-readable descriptions. Structured content has the potential to transform how people find, understand, share, and use government information. Why Structured Content Matters Most digital content published by the federal government is still found on static HTML Web pages. This unstructured content doesn’t always adapt well to smaller screens, and it’s harder to discover, share, or reuse the information.

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Medicare.gov Mobile Website

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services redesigned Medicare.gov as a new and improved responsive mobile website for their users (beneficiaries, caregivers and advocates). The users of the Medicare.gov can apply for Medicare services find health plans, doctors, hospitals and nursing homes review Medicare costs, claims, appeals and modify an existing Medicare plan. Medicare.gov users can also access the blog, news and videos sections. The responsive framework of the Medicare.

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Responsive Design Overview, Resources and Tools

Responsive Web design refers to a fluidly constructed Web page layout that scales from handheld device displays to large, high-resolution computer displays using flexible typography, flexible images, fluid grids, and CSS3 media queries. For years, most Web teams designed for the desktop. Branding, navigation, work flows – the overall look & feel of online applications – were all considered reasonable areas to distinguish one’s online presence from others. Things have changed so dramatically over the past few years that starting with the desktop may now be the backwards way of creating a web site.

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What We’re (Really) Talking About When We’re Talking About Mobile (Hint: It’s the User)

It used to be when we said mobile we meant activities and devices defined strictly by mobility and the features associated with it, such as GPS, SMS, barcode readers, cell phones, etc. But when I found myself in my easy chair watching a ballgame on my laptop because it was closer than the TV, while checking other scores on my smartphone, mobility had little to do with it. If anything, I was the anti-mobile user.

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GSA’s Child Care Information Portal

_ Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by the General Services Administration._ The Child Care Information Portal is a responsively designed web site built by General Services Administration’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, accessible on computers, smartphones and tablets. Why We Did It We decided to create a responsive design site for this project, for three reasons:

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Medicare.gov Responsive Redesign

_ Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services._ Medicare.gov is the consumer website for Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and advocates. The site includes information about Medicare plans, coverage, and care quality managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services within Department of Health and Human Services. Initially, the site was going to be improved to implement a web content management system that would allow for easier maintenance of content on the site.

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AIDS.gov Responsive Design

_ Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by AIDS.gov._ _ _ AIDS.gov implemented an innovative model for responsive design by combining the former AIDS.gov and m.aids.gov to a fluid site accessible on computers, smartphones and tablets. View the webinar on AIDs.gov’s responsive design. Why We Did It Testing showed that more and more people were trying to access the website via mobile device but not all mobile devices were receiving the m.

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Mobile Webinar Series Recap: Responsive Design

Some agencies are turning to responsive design to support device-agnostic content delivery which was called for in the recently released Digital Innovation Strategy. Last week, GSA’s Mobile Program Management Office held a responsive design webinar in conjunction with DigitalGov University outlining agency experiences with responsive design. Agency experts covered responsive design technical approaches and strategy and you can listen to the whole webinar below. One topic interesting to listeners was why agencies decided to implement responsive design.

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