The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation or ASPE, recently launched their new website, http://aspe.hhs.gov/.
The mission of this agency is to ‘advise the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on policy development in health, disability, human services, data, and science; and provides advice and analysis on economic policy.’
Below is Caught in the Web Consulting’s review of the new website.
The new homepage for aspe.hhs.gov is outstanding. The rotator is prominent and easy to navigate with clear, navigational cues/arrows. The rotator executes best practices for 508 compliance across the board.
As the highlight of their content is informative data, the IA does a great job of segmenting the graphs by popular areas such as most viewed and level of interactivity.
The Twitter feed on the homepage is one of the strongest we’ve seen-providing users with the ability to scroll through additional Tweets without having to leave the page to venture away from their site.
While the social media icons are clear and easier to find, a data-driven website should include a larger search bar, and the ability to sign up for emails sits too far below the fold.
One of the strengths of the homepage is the strong usage of white space to break up the data sets.
The fat footer of the site is outstanding and the inclusion of clear icons for the contact options is excellent.
The site implements best practices of top navigation by not exceeding seven main headings and simple uses four. The top nav headings are clear to understand and are easier to grasp. While the site does a great job of organizing content themes under Topics and Offices under About, the site should provide more categories for Publications as opposed to making users have to sort through over 10 pages of publications that are not sorted in any particular structure.
For the exception of the About section, the great balance of white space and content hierarchy is not extended to the interior pages of the site which is unfortunate.
While the list of topics provides users with a solid understanding of the information ASPE provides, the pages are extremely difficult to follow. Under Affordable Care Act Research, the audience is introduced to ‘current publications’ yet some of them are over four years old. This page would be better structured with a drop down menu that enabled users to find publications by date/year. This would also help prevent all of the unnecessary scrolling.
The interior pages are inconsistent in their structure. Again under topics, pages like Alzheimer’s/Dementia and Early Childhood are short in length. However, the poverty section introduces sorting/filter functionality that does not exist under the Affordable Care Act Research content, yet would be well-suited for the page.
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence Review appears to be a different sub-domain, has a dated look and feel, and introduces different navigation. The site should provide the same disclaimer that’s used for youth.gov in the Topics drop down to let visitors know they’re visiting another site to avoid confusion.
Publications and Data and Tools both give site visitors the opportunity to ‘search in table for’- this should be the default for each section and should use additional filtering as shown in the Poverty section under Topics. The Glossary section under Data and Tools would be easier to use if the ability to toggle through by letter as is done for most .gov sites under A-Z topics.
The mobile display of ASPE’s site should be further enhanced. The mobile version of the site uses three lines to spell out the agency’s name which pushes down the search and menu which are key header elements for mobile. Once you do get to the menu, it is pushed down so far that you can only see ‘about’ and not the other menu options.
Some of the visual elements look wonky on mobile. Not sure if that’s just an iPhone issue, but some graphics look distorted on an Amazon Kindle as well.
With such a great homepage, the interior pages should be revisited to make the entire site shine.