Today, we are proud to unveil the new FEMA.gov. As Administrator Fugate said in his video, this is not just an update to the look and feel of our site – the new fema.gov is completely redesigned from the inside out.
To set the stage for the project, here are a few numbers:
- Over 3,300 pages were reviewed, updated and migrated to the new site;
- Over 300 users across the agency were trained to manage and edit content on the site;
- Over 30,000 news releases migrated to the new site; and
- Over 17,000 disaster pages migrated to the new site.
We began the overhaul of the FEMA.gov site almost two years ago by conducting focus groups to determine how to reorganize information so it could be best presented to the public. One month ago, we opened the preview site and asked for feedback as we prepared for the final push. The preview was the latest step of how FEMA’s customers - the American public - shaped how we designed, built, and launched the new site. Looking back, our initial goal was to create a site that is more user-friendly, better up-to-date, and easier to navigate than its predecessor.
Now that the new site has launched, here’s a look at a few of the major improvements:
- Reducing the number of clicks for users - FEMA.gov menus now present key topics and sub-topics that are more relevant to what users are looking for. Users can scroll over topics and see subtopics and descriptions, which more easily guides them to the information they need.
- Preventing users from getting lost - Given the number of pages I mentioned above and the amount of information available on the FEMA.gov site, navigating the old site could prove to be a challenge. The new FEMA.gov now presents the user with “breadcrumbs”, showing how information is organized. Research has shown that these breadcrumbs enable users to better navigate the site by giving them a trail of where they currently are in the site’s structure.
- Improving search capabilities – It’s plain and simple: searching on the new FEMA.gov works better than the previous version. In addition to receiving more accurate search results, users can search for the type of information they want such as news releases, general site pages, blog posts, etc. Search results can also be filtered by date, region and disaster type. Using the search bar will also retrieve better information because we removed many outdated legacy pages that were being maintained on the old site.
- Focusing on accessibility and usability – FEMA.gov has been designed to be accessible to those with access and functional needs and we will continue to strive to meet or exceed federal Section 508 compliance standards. Multi-lingual capabilities have been added too so that a single piece of content can be made in multiple languages with the goal of having key disaster-related content available in the languages that are used in affected areas. Over time, more languages will be added, but there is an emphasis on Spanish content with the initial launch.
The list of major improvements above is exciting – but the most significant enhancements to FEMA’s outreach through our website may be yet to come. Since we’re using the open source, cloud-based Drupal content management system, we have a robust foundation for future higher-level development work. For you “tech-savvy types”, this includes leveraging advanced data visualization, distributed content delivery via application programming interfaces, and other “open government” initiatives.
In the coming months, we will be working hard to update the mobile version of our website (m.fema.gov) as we continue to fix any existing bugs in the newly launched site. Going forward, we encourage you to continue submitting comments and feedback because improving the site is an ongoing process.
So take a few minutes and cruise around the new FEMA.gov, then drop us a comment and let us know what you think. Happy surfing!