Weather.gov – Usability Case Study
After conducting a usability test and listening to customer feedback, the Weather.gov team and the DigitalGov User Experience Program identified these three issues as both important and quickly solvable.
Problem 1: Terminology and Labels Confusing
The terminology and labels used were either too technical or too abstract for users to understand—a far cry from the plain language style required in government. On the homepage, users encountered map tabs for “Graphical Forecasts” and “National Maps”. While these terms have significance for power users, they mean little to casual users.
Solution 1: Simplify Language
The tabs on the top of the map were greatly simplified, using plain language to guide users while providing the same information as before.
Problem 2: Navigation and Branding Inconsistent
Solution 2: Relocate Logos
A “Home” button was added to each page to ease navigation, and the logos of NOAA and Weather.gov were moved side-by-side to reduce confusion.
Problem 3: Too Much Information
There was simply too much text on the page. The casual user was confronted with a mass of technical wording and links, leaving them with little guidance as to how to find information that might be most useful to them.
Solution 3: Move Less Important Information Down
As a result of First Fridays testing, the Weather.gov team created a much more streamlined site, while still providing sufficient information to both casual users and weather professionals. The screen capture below is from August 28, 2012. Addressing the usability of your agency’s website is about more than just identifying aesthetic changes. It’s about making sure that every visitor to your website gets the information they need in a quick and clear manner.