Don’t Be Fooled by Your New Analytics

Congratulations! After months (or even years) of hard work, you’ve launched your new website. It looks great. Your users are sending you great feedback. Online Sales and or donations are up.   Your web administrators are loving the new content management system that your site is built on.

But, your website traffic is suddenly lower. Ack! Before your panic, here are a few things we recommend that you check and consider:


Reduced page count means reduced pages to visit.

Through a website redesign effort, your content strategy tasks should have included a website audit. During the phase, you would have uncovered cases of redundant, outdated, or redundant trivial (known as a ROT analysis). Your assigned content strategist would have also developed content recommendations that may have included consolidating pages. These two tasks are vital for reducing unnecessary content on your site. Don’t be surprised if you see the number of page views go down on your site. It could simply mean that the number of pages has gone down.  Stay focused on how people get to your content (your site’s navigation, internal search from your site)  or external, organic search) and how long they stay on your page.

Don’t forget your new sitemap.

In the same way that wireframes are the recommended blueprint or roadmap of our client’s websites- so are website maps. They help guide search engines while crawling the site. An XML sitemap should be uploaded to better inform search engines as well as to rank all of your related pages. An updated sitemap should be posted to the site after any major enhancements are made to the website. This is a critical step in any website effort to ensure that search can identify and crawl all pages migrated into your new content management system as well as not listing those that have been deleted prior to migration.

SEO Matters on Desktop and Mobile.

One issue that we see with some clients that develop content internally is cutting content during a redesign. While reducing pages (as we discussed above) is ideal, reducing word count must be done with caution. However, relevant brevity is key. The process of writing content for mobile should not be considered the same as “trimming down the fat.” All content, whether it’s viewed on a mobile site or desktop should be relevant. If it’s fatty, it should go, period. Best practices for web content say to keep page length around 500 words. Keep in mind that the average mobile device will only display 80-90 words before you have to scroll. This should be considered when incorporating page breaks, graphics, etc. The rules for SEO on mobile differ from those on standard websites and change frequently. As a comprehensive SEO strategy will accompany the overall web content strategy, please refer to: Google’s latest and greatest SEO mobile guidelines.

Lack of frequently updated content.

As a part of its search algorithm, Google also accesses the indexed age of a website, including its content and the links that are pointing to it. Websites that lack fresh content are viewed as lacking in credibility. No one wants to go to a health website with outdated treatments, or an ecommerce site with old, inaccurate pricing. After launching your website, it is imperative that you keep content fresh on your site. Consider updating your service capabilities or non-profit work by highlighting case studies, stories from donors and those your organization services, employee bios, job opportunities, blog post (link to March blog) and your social media content.

Need help analyzing your analytics and making adjustments after your site launch?
We can help!

Five Ways to Keep Your Blog Alive

It’s easy to say your website needs to include a blog.

It’s a great way to drive traffic, and to present fresh content to your audience. But once you get started, how do you keep the content process going?


Here are 10 ways that you can keep the blog alive:

1. Ditch the Press Releases.

Not only are press releases time consuming to prepare and distribute, but they provide very limited opportunities to present call to actions. Instead, consider using your blog as your company’s news channel.

2. Promote the good stuff you do.

Does your team volunteer or offer pro bono services to a charity?  Tell your followers about it.   People love to connect with those that have like-minded interests and passions.  They are more likely to want to engage with your brand if they know your commitment to making a continual and lasting impact in our communities.  Plus, this can provide your followers with tangible call to actions such as volunteering with you, donating items from a wish list created within your blog, and more.

3. Let your website drive the content.

Your blog should provide stronger visual tie-ins to key features of the website. The blog should offer a “promo spot” – reserved for promotion of upcoming events/campaigns, milestones, or to highlight key content. Related content and stories from your website should be included at the bottom of your blog entries, so that the viewer sees it after they have finished reading the article. This could lead to more engagement with your web content.  Check out how Conservation International does this.

4. Highlight your team.

I recently read a blog post from the DC-based health Communications firm, Hager Sharp (who I love working with!) that highlights the 11-year career milestone of one of their Millennial employees. Not only did the article give their audience a personal look at a member of their staff, it presented the firm in such a positive light that it would be easy to imagine the amount of people that took a peek at their Careers section as a result.

5. Well, IMO…

Ahh, the infamous comments section of a blog.  We’ve all seen them.  For better or for worse, people read them.   Consider using your own blog to comment on another blog post.   Of course, keep it professional and related to the original post that you are responding to.

Need help giving your blog content a boost?
Contact us today!

Instead of going round and round, let your carousel navigate.

Carousels have had a long stay in an ever-changing web space.

Carousels have gotten bigger as a result of hero imagery. And, they have gotten smaller to meet the needs of mobile users who swipe instead of click. We even did a blog post in 2014 encouraging alternatives to the carousel.

Blogs are also another mainstay of websites. They went from one-way communication channels, to hateful, ranting platforms where we wish commenting had never been invented (more on that in an upcoming blog post *smile*).

So many of our clients spend a lot of time on their blogs. Instead of updating evergreen web pages, they devote effort on their blog and social media. Doing so allows them to present fresh content, and to respond to new issues and key objectives. It’s the same reason we update our blog. Blogs are also great traffic drivers as your audience can subscribe to your blog, and become accustomed to the frequency in which you post new content to it. We also see top lists (a la Buzzfeed) keeping their pace as popular, shareable content.

So, if your blog content is frequently updated, and is shareable, and is popular- why shouldn’t it be a part of your navigation?
We are not suggesting that you get rid of your top nav menu on your site (this would be a no-no for 508 compliance and mobile users). But, if you produce a lot of news features, articles- why not?

In adding a story/blog/article-specific carousel or rotator under your main navigation, you can give your audience a more prominent way to view and engage with your latest content. The content that you’re spending the most time developing and publishing. Through a good content management system, you don’t need to update the carousel, uniquely. This content should be dynamically updated along with your blog. And, the thumbnails associated with your blog can give you the opportunity to draw readers in with beautiful imagery that audiences aren’t used to seeing in navigation. And, doing this is yet another way to boost SEO.

Want to see what we mean? Check out this site.

Interested in upgrading your carousel to present your great content? Contact us today!

Lights. Camera. Wait. How Long Should My Video Be?

Happy New Year!!

We’ve always followed the rule that shorter videos will get more members of your audience to tune in. However, Facebook is about to change the rules, once again. As you consider your social strategy, make sure that you check out this articleand how longer videos means more prominence in Facebook news feeds. We’re not so sure we’re convinced yet… So let’s stay tuned. And, while we anxiously await to see what changes happen in regards to best practices for presenting video online, here are some reasons video can improve digital strategy:

  • Video is visual and familiar. People are used to watching TV, watching movies… Videos provide an approachable way to introduce and share information. It conveys emotion when words and numbers alone aren’t enough.

  • They make us human. Video humanizes complex topics and allows audiences to relate to people/conditions/research that might otherwise seem inaccessible.

  • A good content strategy presents storytelling. Video supports this as it is a great tool for persuasion, advocacy, and awareness-building.

  • Keep it simple. When video incorporates animation, and unique content genres like infographics and design; it clarifies complex ideas, making them easier to understand. Something great to consider when stressing plain language.

Interested in developing a video strategy for your website? We proudly authored the video (as well as content, blog, and social) strategy for www.healthcare.gov and would love to help you develop yours.

Contact us today.

What You Need to Know: YouTube Embed Videos

YouTube made some changes last week to how video embed code works.

YouTube uses HTML5 for embedded videos, and Flash now only works on some browsers for some users, depending on plugins. Many of our clients may now have videos that aren’t working, and they may not know about it yet.

Why Your FAQ Page Now Matters More than Ever

This time last year, we were bombarded with all things Mobilegeddon.

We’ve seen more and more of our clients embrace mobile strategy. Not because they wanted to, but because they needed to after seeing their web traffic drop after failing Google’s mobile-friendliness test.

Adaptive Search Image

Enter adaptive voice and search.
Thank you, Siri, Cortana, and Alexa.

What is adaptive voice/search?

It is a technology that uses a combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Text-to-Speech (TTS) to interpret a user’s voice search request. The request is processed within a search database, which attempts to match the spoken question with an answer.

How is this different from traditional search?

Unlike traditional search where you type in a few key words, adaptive search is speech-driven. And, rather than just providing a list of search results, you’ll instead receive a proposed answer to your inquiry.

Adaptive search is all about two-way communication.   Imagine that you want to search for pizza through your desktop computer. You’d most likely type something like ‘local pizza, or best local pizza.’ If you were to ask someone, your question may be, ‘where can I get could pizza in DC?’

The main difference is that traditional search works through generating a list of results based on the inclusion of one or a few keywords. Adaptive voice takes the search process a big step further by moving search to a Q&A model.  Adaptive voice provides you with a direct answer to your response based on the depth of the content. This in turn gives you much more compelling results.

Why this matters to your web content? 

Today, over 50% of teens are utilizing adaptive search, and just over 40% of adults use adaptive voice each day.   So yes, it should matter to you and your web presence.  Search results are not just based on a few keywords that are in your content. Instead, adaptive search looks for the best response to an inquiry, so content must be able to answer.

Best Practices for Adaptive Search

  • Be TMI with search Schema. Help search engines truly understand, and not just scan the contents behind a web page.
  • Location, location, location. Most people use adaptive search to look for local information.  Where’s the best restaurant in my neighborhood? Where can I donate children’s clothes in DC?  When possible, include location-based information in your text.
  • Can we talk? Consider a more conversational tone.
    • Natural phrases vs keywords.
    • Utilize long tail keywords—keywords with three or more words.
  • Don’t be a robot. Humanize with adverbs:
    • Who
    • What
    • Where
    • Why
  • Tomato. Tomato or Caramel/Carmel. Research misspellings that can result from common mispronunciations.
  • Any questions? Proactively generate questions, and ask for them.
  • Voice-activated search users are looking for direct answers to trivia questions.
    • Reword common search terms as questions.
    • Add positive or negative qualifiers to optimize long tail phrases for voice search.
    • FAQs are crucial.

So, SEO doesn’t matter anymore, right?
Wrong.

  • SEO still matters for both adaptive voice and traditional search. And don’t forget these rules that still apply, as well: Do not forget or reduce accessibility.
    • Adaptive voice is great for people with some types of disabilities, while it excludes those who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and/or those with speech difficulties. Make sure that traditional search results are still strong and accessible for audiences with disabilities.
    • Technology can’t understand accents and idioms.
  • Mobile first: questions and FAQ lists have to consider ‘fat thumb syndrome.’ Be sure that questions are not just links on your web pages, and instead- have them presented in call out boxes, or buttons to ensure ease of access.

We are working with many of our clients now to include questions to introduce key content areas. We do this by strengthening their FAQs, and by including questions and answers throughout the site based on inquiries from customer service via email, phone, or chat.  We are also encouraging our clients to use Top lists such as ‘What are five ways I can strengthen my financial portfolio? What are 3 signs of a good charity?’ as they too embrace adaptive search users.

How can we help you reach your adaptive search audience? Contact us today so we can get started.

Ten Things that We Loved about Websites in 2015

With 2015 coming to an end, we wanted to take a minute to recognize our 10 favorite things that we loved in the last year.

  1. Sign me up: Websites across the board did a much better job of streamlining the online registration process. Through one click, users could join a platform using a social account to sign up. Multi-step form wizards “chunk out” the required fields, and streaming app. Periscope allowed users to sign up by simply adding their phone number. Love it.
  2. PDF Intervention: Prior to May of 2015, the bulk of urban.org’s strong web content was in the form of PDFS. However, their analytics showed that these PDFs were only attributing to less than four percent of their site’s total pageviews. Not good. They decided that it was time to seek some content rehab and get some eyes on their best content.   Instead, they implemented single-column reports, developed HTML-first briefs and reports, and allowed people to get a sneak peek of their content before sending them into a PDF.   We hope to see this great trend continue in other content-heavy sites in 2016.
    kill-the-pdf-uw
  3. Aw Snap!: Snapfish’s new website is a big wow in our book. Their site gets the fact that today’s web users are on the move, and that people save pictures in random places. Some times on our phone, our laptop, social media channels–they’re everywhere. With the launch of their new site, Snapfish allows their audience to Import photos from Instagram, enhanced their photo editing tools, and my favorite–you can seamlessly start or finish a product on any device. As a self-professed offline oversharer who orders tons of photos, I love this feature!FireShot Screen Capture #117 - ' Online Photo Printing I Photo Christmas Cards I Photo Books I Photo_' - www_snapfi
  4. Welcome, All: “The good news is that accessibility is usability under a magnifying glass. If you’re thinking about great usability, the chances are that you’re already thinking about great accessibility too” (From the Nomensa Blog November 13, 2012). As the web becomes more mobile-first, it has also inadvertently become more accessible to those with disabilities. More consideration to reading order, navigational and layout consistency, as well as stronger labeling not only improve usability from all device types, but they make it easier for those with disabilities to enjoy your site too.   To see more about how individuals with disabilities navigate the web, please watch this great video.
  5. It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye. Well, Not That Hard… We thought about writing a blog post devoted to the year of great unsubscribe pages, but Contently (who we love) beat us to it! The best Unsubscribe pages of 2015 allowed people to get fewer communications, watch videos about the benefits of staying subscribe, and some provided downright hilarious comedy!
  6. Mobilegeddon: We haven’t let go of that catchphrase just yet. I received probably a million emails from my clients on this one in 2015. What do we need to do? When do we need to do it? Mobilegeddon wasn’t something to be scared of–it only made content and search–better.
  7. House of Cards: It’s a darn good TV show, but it also makes for great website design: Card design. Card design sites (also known as grid sites) are great for mobile and responsive design. Pinterest set the standard.House of Cards
    House of Cards 2
  8. Know When to Fold Them: With the emergence of responsive design, a lot of web wonks began to say something that we totally disagree with: That below the fold no longer matters. We could not disagree more. It does matter. What appears at the top of the page vs. what’s hidden will ALWAYS influence the user experience—regardless of screen size.   If you don’t have a good story to tell, engaging information or resources to present; there is no reason to scroll. People don’t scroll passages of content for fun. They do it for a reason.
  9. I Ain’t Scared of No Ghost: OK–so we’re showing our ages a bit with a reference from the Ghostbusters theme song. Ghost Buttons started in 2014, but became better and more prominent in 2015. Ghost buttons enable functionality without distracting from the user experience. They are called ‘ghost buttons’ as they are typically represented as outlined, clickable links that change when the user hovers over them. However, use them with caution as they can be a bit difficult to implement, aesthetically–and this is one area where you can lose 508 compliance without strong tagging of the outlined link.
  10. Menu du Jour: Amped up website navigation was one of our favorite highlights of 2015. Some navigation menus became sticky, some were slideouts, and some even flew. Others were hidden until you were ready to see them and only became visible when the visitor was ready to move on and clicked the appropriate icon. We love it for desktop, we love it for accessibility, and we love it for a strong user experience.

What was your favorite thing on the web in 2015? Or, do you need help achieving one or some of these tactics? We’d love to hear from you!

Top 10 G’s for Your End of Year Giving

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-multi-ethnic-hands-holding-word-give-group-people-s-arms-raised-letters-form-image39119464

Fall is my favorite season. Why? I love the cool, crisp air. The feeling of leaves crushing beneath my feet. Cooking with all things pumpkin and apple (I make a mean pumpkin roll and a yummy apple crostata), hayrides, and yes—football season! Oh yeah, I binge-watch football from Thursday–Monday. But I also love the excitement and anticipation surrounding end of year (EOY) fundraising for my non-profit clients.

Here are our top 10 G’s for you to remember when asking people to give back to your organization.

10.) Get started early.

By August- your organization should have its end of year strategy in place. End of year giving is not just about the month of December.   After people return from summer vacations, you want to get them reacquainted with your organization and its mission. It’s also the time to get new or prospective supporters signed up to your email list. November can best be used for not direct fundraising, but for a non-financial engagement activity that does two things:

1) Lifts the energy and interest of existing names on your email list prior to the relatively heavy-handed year-end fundraising period.

2) Adds substantial numbers of new people to your list in advance of the December year-end fundraising push. The month of December, specifically the final week must include:

  • Promotion across every channel
  • A campaign with a very strong deadline and sense of urgency
  • A holiday brand that is included on every channel (Facebook, YouTube should have the same treatment as the Web)

9.) Get an EOY website upgrade. Your website is the face of your year-end campaign and it should look that way.

  • The homepage should include compelling imagery that provides an emotional appeal.
  • The website should include several emotional appeals to both increase overall awareness and raise money for the mission which can be done with a more personal feel to the website.
  • Ensure that your donation pages have been optimized for year-end giving. Here are our tips on how to do so.
  • Imagery used for the campaign should reflect a holiday, winter feel but be non-denominational in nature.
  • Make your story front and center.
  • Consider an all things EOY page. This should include overview copy, a photo gallery, video from the show/teasers, social media links, and of course- the ability to give.
  • Donate now should be much more prominent on the site. If possible, the main graphics for the campaign should link to a donation page.
  • If this is not already the case, consider making Donate one of the main navigation headings so it can be on every page of the website.
  • With the launch of every EOY campaign email, the website should have a graphic on the homepage that is in sync with the messaging- providing a call-to-action to key elements (donate, share, etc.) from the effort.
  • Social media icons should be much more prominent, encouraging individuals to follow the holiday effort via Twitter and Facebook.
  • Don’t forget to add this treatment to all of your EOY campaign channels including your emails, blog, social media channels, SEM efforts, etc.

8.) Get creative.

Everyone knows to send good emails for fundraising, but what about stepping outside of the email box?   The USO offered holiday cards with combat boots instead of stocking hanging from the chimney to sell during the holiday season. Consider allowing users to be a part of an EOY holiday wall that allows them to share a video with their friends and family asking them to give with them.

7.) Go find your story.

Your holiday campaign should stand out from, yet stand with your mission.   When thinking of your focal story for your EOY of year campaign, consider the following elements:

  • What is/are the problem (s) we want to solve?
  • What is the solution our organization can provide with your support?
  • Why is this urgent? Why does the gift need to be received before the end of year? 

6.) Give options.

Current and prospective donors want to see what your organization is all about before just opening their wallets.   To encourage audiences to test drive your message in the weeks leading up to your core fundraising effort, give them a few options such as:

  • Signing up for an email for more information on how your organization works
  • Simply liking a campaign on social media
  • Watching a video
  • Reading a story 

5.) Get new emails.

We all have different views, but we tend to have family and friends that share our beliefs and likes. One of the easiest ways to grow your audience in time for critical year end fundraising is to ask your audience to become your brand evangelists. To encourage participation and to allow your followers to be involved, ask them to ask 3, 5, or 7 people they know on social media to share your message. From there, ask them to sign up to read your campaign.

4.) Go mobile.

People not only read and shop via their smartphones, they also expect to give this way as well. Make sure that your donation pages and appeal emails are optimized for mobile. Read this great article from Mobile Cause to see how. Don’t forget to consider a texting campaign.

3.) Give deadlines.

In order to encourage a sense of urgency for your campaign, there has to be set deadline. The average non-profit raises nearly 70% of their annual fundraising dollars in the month of December. It is the time of year when people are feeling more generous, and when they are eager to earn last-minute tax deductions. It’s OK to share with your audience that not only do their donations help your organization, but they too can benefit from tax deductions from their charitable act.

  1. Your organization should consider how end of year factors such as the weather, travel, or the holidays can support your message. Or, is it more feasible to have a more specific campaign asks at another time of year that your organization ‘owns?’
    For example: all eyes are on conservation and environmental organizations during the month of April surrounding Earth Day.  
  2. Consider that #GivingTuesday has a shelf life of 24 hours, so you must give today.
  3. An organization that provides resources to low-income families should highlight the immediate impact of frigid temperatures on those they serve, and should also position their message and opportunity for amplification at this time. 

2.) Get a matchmaker.

The end of the year is the perfect time to make a matching gift push because most matching gift deadlines are right around the New Year. Be sure to recognize the donor (even if anonymously), share a transparent look into where those donated funds will go (restricted or unrestricted), and why it’s important for your donors to give to enhance the depth of the match.

1.) Give thanks.

Yes. It’s that simple. Be sure to thank your donors and mission evangelists on your website, via social media, and email at the end of the campaign. Consider having your CEO, Executive Director, or Development/Fundraising lead star in a video that simply says thank you. Here is a great example from the 2011 year-end campaign I worked on with Conservation International.

Need help with your end of year fundraising efforts? Contact Caught in the Web Consulting, LLC today.

It’s our organization’s anniversary!
Now what?

How to observe and celebrate your organization’s anniversary with your online audience

A company that doesn’t have a history may not have a future.

It is always commendable when an organization reaches a milestone in years of service and mission fulfillment. However, most organizations forget to virtually-observe their anniversary which means that they also forget a great opportunity to reach their audience in new ways. An anniversary should be considered a campaign and like any campaign, you should determine the purpose for publicizing your anniversary.

  • Is the purpose to promote your brand?
  • To share a new service or offering?
  • Receive donations?
  • Increase your list?

Here are a few ideas to make your anniversary…kind of a big deal.


Where are they now?

thenandnowI always love when shows or magazines highlight celebrities of the past and provide an update on where they are now. As a supporter of DAWN (the Deaf Abused Women’s Network) – their annual B.O.O.T.S gala (Breaking Out of the Silence) – highlights abused women who were at rock bottom and how much their lives have improved since their time with the organization. It is extremely moving and inspiring. For non profits, they can take issues from 25 years ago- and show where they are today. With funding and policy changes- what impact has your organization had on a particular issue over the last 25 years?

Focus on UGC – (user generated content) – To best leverage your social media channels, allow your audiences to tell you what they believe were your biggest successes, and for them to identify what are your biggest challenges and opportunities for the next 25.

We Thrive in 25
Allow your audience to come up with lists (presented through social media or video) and tweets of 25 ways they and their friends come up with to help fulfill your mission.

Try to do this on the 25th of the year.

We Thrive in 25/Take 25 Each month of our anniversary

This could be a campaign effort through all channels where individuals sign a pledge (online form, social media, text) – Join us on the 25th of each month in an action that supports our mission. For environmental organizations, this could be conserving energy for 25 minutes: Turn off the lights at work. Power down the laptop. Get out of your car. For an organization like the USO- say thank you to 25 active duty troops or veterans. Or, donate $25.00 to allow 25 minutes of talk time. This effort could allow for a corporate challenge- get your partners to take 25 with you.

Say THANK YOU

It sounds simple enough, but the power of these two words should never be underestimated.   In 2006, Oxfam celebrated their 50th anniversary by thanking their audience of then, over 250,000, for their support. They pointed to how their donors and volunteers impacted and saved the lives of 1,000s worldwide. They used this thank you as an opportunity to highlight ways that donor dollars DO work, and how their continued support will be just as important.

Show & Tell

Your organization should offer a timeline displaying your major milestones. Here is one of my absolute favorite timelines: http://www.childhoodleague.org/70th-anniversary-timeline/.


Other Non Profit Efforts and Partner Support:

wwf

WWF UK celebrated their anniversary with the creation of a garden that was inspired by their water-related conservation work.

WWF celebrated their 50th with many efforts including a commemorative poster (provided as a premium with a donation), that highlights the most popular species they’ve protected as well as their top initiatives over the last 50 years. Their partner, CVS- sold the calendar on their website as well as donated at least $10,000 to the poster.

Susan G Komen celebrated their 30 year anniversary by dividing their efforts into decades, highlighting and honoring their “commitment to their promise over each decade.” They focus on major leaders, individuals- who most impacted their efforts and success including policy leaders, scientists, advocates, and survivors.
susankomen

Susan G Komen has previously engaged their partner, Kitchenmade, to sell products with their logo to commemorate their anniversary with a
portion of the proceeds going to Komen’s cancer research.


Online Campaign

An email as well as additional online and offline channels could promote your anniversary- 25 years of making a positive impact for 25 more years and beyond. A premium could be added that includes your 25 year logo, and messages.

usoBranding

While you have to be sensitive to your exist brand, consider a special anniversary logo as well as theme (campaign). They should be included in press releases, events, collateral, on the site, emails, and email signatures.

Video

Turn the camera to your supporters and staff (don’t forget your sponsors and partners!) and ask them to talk about their role in your organization… A memorable volunteer event. A major milestone the organization reached.

Need help planning your online anniversary events?
We can help.

Review of www.aspe.hhs.gov

FireShot Screen Capture #013 - 'ASPE I Office of The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation' - aspe_hhs_gov

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.

Homepage

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.

Top Navigation

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.

Interior Pages

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.

Topics

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.

Site Search

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.

Mobile

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.