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A Deeper Look into the Website Redesign

Posted by Bernetta Reese, Digital Manager in Technology
Apr 21, 2017
Redesigned page on a computer and mobile devices graphic
Find the information you need, faster, with the redesigned website.

We hope you are finding it easier to get the information you need on following the launch of our site redesign in March. We’ve already welcomed over 1 million visitors to the new site and we are pleased with the positive feedback we’ve received thus far.

Our redesign makes it easier for you to get the news you care about quickly and get on with your busy life. Now, you can explore “USDA in Action,” an area designed to quickly share what’s happening across the department. And another friendly feature is being able to sign up for email updates with the click of a button from any page on the site. It’s all part of our strategic efforts to improve upon digital communications across USDA, strengthen collaboration with all of our USDA agencies, and expand our digital capabilities.

Through our redesign, we were able to introduce new design elements from the U.S. Federal Web Design Standards that help to make the site more intuitive. Our primary goals for the redesign included highlighting more social and engaging information and placing it right at your fingertips; making better use of real estate on our homepage; enhancing our site search to help you get to information faster; improving the site’s information architecture; and implementing responsive design across the entire site to provide a better viewing experience from any device.

For those who’d like to learn what’s behind it all, you might enjoy this deeper look at our plan. As part of our initial planning efforts and project kick-off, we developed a simple roadmap that provided a high-level outline of deliverables and requirements for the site. Throughout the project we worked within a system that allowed us to track hundreds of individual tasks specifically tailored to the redesign. We completed content mapping tasks, archived outdated content, and established new taxonomy, metadata, and keywords for the site, supported by our site analytics.

And as part of our continued effort to ensure the new site is user and mobile-friendly, we leveraged industry-based tools, including Google and Bing, to test the site across multiple devices and platforms. We also worked to ensure the new site is fully accessible using the WCAG 2.0 guidelines outlined in the U.S Access Board’s Section 508 Refresh—a new mandate that updates the standards for accessibility requirements for information and communication technology. We’re not stopping there as we will continue to make improvements moving forward.

In addition to adopting new Federal guidelines, the site is now built on a Drupal platform, which allows us more flexibility in our approach to content management and the ability to quickly edit and publish content. It also provides us with a centralized location to host all of our content, including the USDA blog. On top of that, the platform provides easier onboarding and training, and a simplified approach to analytics and engagement, with improved methods for digital media and social sharing integration. We also have the ability to monitor and maintain a more reliable and usable infrastructure compared to our legacy content management system.

Our digital team worked diligently alongside a team of contractors to meet many deadlines and complete a successful launch. Using agile project management methods, strategic planning, workshops and user testing, and a combination of web development and accessibility tools, the new embodies the best of government and industry expertise with our audience—you—in mind. By working closely with our stakeholders, agencies and offices, and federal partners, we were able to not only meet our goals for the new website, we were able to reestablish our digital processes and the way we deliver and receive information online.

By sharing the efforts that went into our redesign, we hope it provides you with a better understanding of the site and the steps we’ve taken to provide an improved experience. We want you to continue to explore the new site and continue to share feedback with us.

Category/Topic: Technology