1
Design for Findability:
Collaboration on Congress.gov
Meg Peters (with Jill MacNeice) | July 2013
Web Services | mpete@l...
2
Congress.gov:
United States Legislative Information
• Congressional Bills, Laws, and Resolutions
• Profiles of Members o...
3
A Little Background…
Public Site: THOMAS.gov
Since 1995
Internal Site: LIS
Since 1997
4
These Two Sites Are Completely Separate
Public Site: THOMAS.gov Internal Site: LIS
Managed by Law Library Managed by CRS
5
Congress.gov Is a Completely New Site – Inside and Out!
Congress.gov Beta
Since September 2012
Redesigned
User Experienc...
6
My Role
• Information Architect
• User Interface Designer
• Usability Specialist – CUA! 
• QA’er
7
The Core Team
Subject-Matter Experts from…
Web Services
Meg the UX’er
Design
Manager
Development
Manager
Technical
Archi...
8
The Rest of the Team: Total Is 40+ People
Subject-Matter Experts
Web Services
Jill the UX’er
Visual
Designer
CSS / Front...
9
Read Team Interviews on the Law Library Blog
Under “Interviews” at:
http://blogs.loc.gov/law/
10
How This Book Helped Make It Happen
Web
Governance
Board Strategy!
11
That’s How We Went From This…
Public Site: THOMAS.gov Internal Site: LIS
Managed by Law Library Managed by CRS
12
To This…
Subject-Matter Experts
Web Services
Jill the UX’er
Visual
Designer
CSS / Front-End
Developers
Legal Counsel
IT...
13
Visual
Designer
Findability Is My Job
Jill the UX’erDesign
Manager Meg the UX’er
On the UX team, we are
“birds of a fea...
14
We UX’ers Think About These Things All the Time...
8 Pillars of Findability
Internal
1. Can people find what they’re lo...
15
We UX’ers Think About These Things All the Time...
8 Pillars of Findability
External
5. Can people find our content fro...
16
What are some challenges with
working on Congress.gov?
(And a few stories… ;)
17
Findability Framework: Design Challenges
Q: Can people find what they’re looking for quickly and easily?
Q: From any ob...
18
What Are Congress.gov Users Trying to Find?
Legislation Member
profiles
The
Congressional
Record
Committee
reports
To o...
19
A Bill As a Search Object
Summaries
Text of Bill
Actions
Titles
Amendments
Sponsor
Cosponsors
Committees
Committee
Repo...
20
Subject-Matter Experts
Our Subject-Matter Experts Guided Us
• They know the content and the legislative process
• They ...
21
Visual
Designer
We Guided the Team, Too
Jill the UX’erDesign
Manager Meg the UX’er
We evangelized good design
and usabi...
22
The Core Team Did Not Always Agree
Subject-Matter Experts from…
Web Services
Meg the UX’er
Design
Manager
Development
M...
23
Sometimes the Development Cycle Constrained Us
Web Services
CSS / Front-End
Developers
IT Services
Back-End Developers
...
24
Still, We Made Great Strides
We integrated usability testing into our development cycle.
25
We Went From This…
Search box not global.
Limited search scope.
Results cannot be sorted
or filtered.
26
… To This
Global search box
Search across sources
such as Legislation
and Members
Filter using facets
Descriptive searc...
27
And From This…
28
… To This
29
And From This…
The footer is not for THOMAS.
30
… To This
31
Our CSS Expert Taught Us Responsive Design
THOMAS is “unresponsive.”
Q: Can people using small screens
easily find and ...
32
So That Now We Have This
33
Q: What did I learn as a designer?
A: Data-driven sites must be designed from the bottom up,
not from the top down.
AND…
34
Success Depends Entirely on Collaboration
35
Thank you!
Questions?
Meg Peters (with Jill MacNeice) | July 2013
Web Services | mpete@loc.gov
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Design for Findability: Collaboration on Congress.gov

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The story of the collaboration at the Library of Congress to launch the Congress.gov beta website of the U.S. Congress, told from a user experience viewpoint at UXPA 2013 on July 12, 2013.

This presentation complements Jill MacNeice's "Design for Findability: Metadata, Metrics & Collaboration on LOC.gov":
http://www.slideshare.net/JillMacNeice

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  • Ultimately Congress.gov will contain all the legislative information currently on THOMAS.gov. To be added: Nominations Treaties Executive Communications All legislative information for Congresses prior to 1973
  • LIS is used by Congressional staff and Library of Congress staff.
  • Lots of search objects, lots of data over many years! 40 years of legislation 82 years of Member profiles 24 years of the Congressional Record 18 years of committee reports
  • Other search objects: Member Congressional Record Article Committee Report Later: Nomination Treaty Committee And more…
  • We user test for every major release, and we test in between. We do both moderated and unmoderated testing, and we leverage web and search analytics.
  • Homepage for a bill.
  • The global footer is for the Library of Congress, not THOMAS.
  • Design for Findability: Collaboration on Congress.gov

    1. 1. 1 Design for Findability: Collaboration on Congress.gov Meg Peters (with Jill MacNeice) | July 2013 Web Services | mpete@loc.gov
    2. 2. 2 Congress.gov: United States Legislative Information • Congressional Bills, Laws, and Resolutions • Profiles of Members of Congress • The Congressional Record (Printed Publication of the Proceedings and Debates of Congress) • Committee Reports and Committee Profiles
    3. 3. 3 A Little Background… Public Site: THOMAS.gov Since 1995 Internal Site: LIS Since 1997
    4. 4. 4 These Two Sites Are Completely Separate Public Site: THOMAS.gov Internal Site: LIS Managed by Law Library Managed by CRS
    5. 5. 5 Congress.gov Is a Completely New Site – Inside and Out! Congress.gov Beta Since September 2012 Redesigned User Experience New Technical Infrastructure New Approach New Team
    6. 6. 6 My Role • Information Architect • User Interface Designer • Usability Specialist – CUA!  • QA’er
    7. 7. 7 The Core Team Subject-Matter Experts from… Web Services Meg the UX’er Design Manager Development Manager Technical Architect IT Services Project Manager
    8. 8. 8 The Rest of the Team: Total Is 40+ People Subject-Matter Experts Web Services Jill the UX’er Visual Designer CSS / Front-End Developers Legal Counsel IT Services Back-End Developers QA’ers Web Services Chief Sys AdminsLaw and CRS
    9. 9. 9 Read Team Interviews on the Law Library Blog Under “Interviews” at: http://blogs.loc.gov/law/
    10. 10. 10 How This Book Helped Make It Happen Web Governance Board Strategy!
    11. 11. 11 That’s How We Went From This… Public Site: THOMAS.gov Internal Site: LIS Managed by Law Library Managed by CRS
    12. 12. 12 To This… Subject-Matter Experts Web Services Jill the UX’er Visual Designer CSS / Front-End Developers Legal Counsel IT Services Back-End Developers QA’ers Web Services Chief Sys AdminsLaw and CRS
    13. 13. 13 Visual Designer Findability Is My Job Jill the UX’erDesign Manager Meg the UX’er On the UX team, we are “birds of a feather.”
    14. 14. 14 We UX’ers Think About These Things All the Time... 8 Pillars of Findability Internal 1. Can people find what they’re looking for quickly and easily? 2. From any object page, can people easily find related content and access the rest of the site? 3. Does the overall high level organization make sense to the typical user? 4. Can people with small screens find and use our content?
    15. 15. 15 We UX’ers Think About These Things All the Time... 8 Pillars of Findability External 5. Can people find our content from a search engine? (Google, Bing, etc) 6. Can people save and share content easily? 7. Do we reach out to our audience and not just wait for them to come to us? 8. Can our content be accessed, downloaded in bulk, and repackaged?
    16. 16. 16 What are some challenges with working on Congress.gov? (And a few stories… ;)
    17. 17. 17 Findability Framework: Design Challenges Q: Can people find what they’re looking for quickly and easily? Q: From any object page, can people easily find related content and access the rest of the site? Q: Does the overall high level organization make sense to the typical user? The first “Q” also relates to metadata (search relevancy).
    18. 18. 18 What Are Congress.gov Users Trying to Find? Legislation Member profiles The Congressional Record Committee reports To our team, these are search objects.
    19. 19. 19 A Bill As a Search Object Summaries Text of Bill Actions Titles Amendments Sponsor Cosponsors Committees Committee Reports Related Bills Subjects
    20. 20. 20 Subject-Matter Experts Our Subject-Matter Experts Guided Us • They know the content and the legislative process • They use the internal system (LIS), which Congress.gov will eventually replace
    21. 21. 21 Visual Designer We Guided the Team, Too Jill the UX’erDesign Manager Meg the UX’er We evangelized good design and usability. BUT…
    22. 22. 22 The Core Team Did Not Always Agree Subject-Matter Experts from… Web Services Meg the UX’er Design Manager Development Manager Technical Architect IT Services Project Manager
    23. 23. 23 Sometimes the Development Cycle Constrained Us Web Services CSS / Front-End Developers IT Services Back-End Developers QA’ers Sys Admins We had to remember that “It’s a beta!”
    24. 24. 24 Still, We Made Great Strides We integrated usability testing into our development cycle.
    25. 25. 25 We Went From This… Search box not global. Limited search scope. Results cannot be sorted or filtered.
    26. 26. 26 … To This Global search box Search across sources such as Legislation and Members Filter using facets Descriptive search results Strategies and specs for metadata and URLs
    27. 27. 27 And From This…
    28. 28. 28 … To This
    29. 29. 29 And From This… The footer is not for THOMAS.
    30. 30. 30 … To This
    31. 31. 31 Our CSS Expert Taught Us Responsive Design THOMAS is “unresponsive.” Q: Can people using small screens easily find and access our content?
    32. 32. 32 So That Now We Have This
    33. 33. 33 Q: What did I learn as a designer? A: Data-driven sites must be designed from the bottom up, not from the top down. AND…
    34. 34. 34 Success Depends Entirely on Collaboration
    35. 35. 35 Thank you! Questions? Meg Peters (with Jill MacNeice) | July 2013 Web Services | mpete@loc.gov

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