Putting it all together A case study

Let's see how our five points play out in a specific case. This case study is of revising the portal site to all the information in all the agencies that make up the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Case Study 3-1 Revising the home page of a portal

With 12 major agencies, more than 300 programs, more than 65,000 employees, and an annual budget of more than $500 billion, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is larger than many major worldwide corporations. Its agencies include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health - sources of information on health and safety for people all over the world and on medical benefits for elderly and poor Americans.

Each HHS agency has web sites (and subsites and subsites of those subsites). The main page at www.hhs.gov has to serve as a portal to all the topics on all those agency sites - as well as give visitors the "big picture" of what HHS does.

A team of HHS subject matter experts, web designers, and usability specialists - with my help as an external usability consultant - revised the site in 2002. One of our first steps was to do a usability test of the existing site, both to get baseline data against which we could later compare a revised site and to identify problems to address in revising the site.

Here is the old HHS home page and what we learned from watching and listening as people tried to use it:

S^S Search was a button, and \ many people did not see it.

Some people tried to type ^y search requests into the Select a topic box. It was the only form on the page.

The information was all on f JsJ agency sites. This link went ^ to a page of agency descriptions - but then users had to decide which agency had the topic they wanted.

Some people tried to type ^y search requests into the Select a topic box. It was the only form on the page.

This topic box held only about 35 topics, so it didn't help most visitors.

Visitors didn't want news. They wanted topic-based information.

f^S Only 1 of 16 people ever ( J*J clicked on the A-Z link. Most said they never noticed it.

The site didn't use a tag ' J line. Site visitors could no tell what the department

This topic box held only about 35 topics, so it didn't help most visitors.

Visitors didn't want news. They wanted topic-based information.

f^S Only 1 of 16 people ever ( J*J clicked on the A-Z link. Most said they never noticed it.

f^S The logos were confusing. f \People thought they were ads or links to sponsors, which is not what they are.

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