Designing for Open Data: Improvements to Data.gov

We’ve written a few times about the changes that we’ve been working on for Data.gov to make it easier for users to find, understand, and use government data. Today you’ll notice even more changes to Data.gov – here’s a quick rundown of some of the main changes you’ll see, and why.

Two smartphones showing the old Data.gov looking like a a shrunken desktop version, next to the new Data.gov look, showing a welcome message that fills the screen

Works on your mobile device

The site is now responsive to the device you’re using. Pull up Data.gov on your smartphone or tablet and you will see the content adapts to your screen size. And we’ll continue to make more improvements on this over time.

Refreshed design

In this refresh, we emphasized a simpler design with more white space. We also made design decisions based on whether they helped or hurt users trying to complete tasks, and will be updating the look and feel regularly.

Curated by topic

On the front page, we featured a rotating carousel and a list of the latest datasets as they were published by different agencies.

The updated site now has icons representing the subject areas that we’ve heard are most important to you. The new approach helps you quickly get to relevant datasets and examples.

Under the hood

Previously, the website was built on a mix of open and proprietary systems, but the development, as with so many government websites, wasn’t done publicly. Now we’re using open source systems, including WordPress and CKAN. Most importantly, the development is public from the beginning on GitHub so you can see how the site came to be, and will continue to grow. We’ve already had significant help from the open source community and look forward to more.

Your help

We’ve expanded our user testing and cannot wait to do more. Huge thanks to the people who participated!

What’s next

While we’re excited about these improvements, we recognize there’s a lot more work to do. A few things on our horizon include:

  • Regular user feedback and testing sessions (if you’re interested in volunteering, let us know!);
  • Continuing to refine the site content and layout to ensure it works with the rest of the site’s responsive design; and
  • Usability review and upgrade of individual datasets.

Did we miss something? Open an issue on GitHub!

Originally published on Data.gov.

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