The National Archives provides many “entrances” to our content. We have facilities located across the country to bring our records to you and you may find our records where you go to on the web, including Wikipedia, Facebook, Instagram, and many more. We know that nearly one third of you come to our website via your phones and this experience just got much better.
A few days ago, our website (Archives.gov) underwent a substantial behind-the-scenes overhaul. Nearly 3 million visitors come to Archives.gov each month to search and discover information about the National Archives. The website serves as the primary face of the agency both nationally and internationally and plays an important role in our Open Government efforts to provide greater transparency and access to the records of the National Archives.
The underlying infrastructure was completely rebuilt and migrated into Drupal, an open source content management system. Drupal allows more NARA staff to more easily update the site content, resulting in a fresher experience for you, our users. Although this effort focused on our back-end systems—and was not a visual redesign of the site—there are some enhancements that will be readily apparent to you and I want to highlight here. These improvements include: a better experience on smartphones and tablets, an updated section of the site dedicated to America’s founding documents, and a new searchable calendar of national events.
1. Responsive to mobile devices: Nearly one third of our web visitors browse Archives.gov on a smartphone or tablet. The updated site now adjusts to provide the best experience for your screen size.
2. Refreshed look for America’s founding documents: The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights are viewed more than 18 million times a year and are consistently in our top 5 most visited sections of the website. In the past, these important documents were featured in a design that was distinct from the rest of the website and the user experience on mobile devices was poor. We’ve incorporated this content into the main site, making it more accessible on mobile devices, improving the navigation, and better integrating documents with the rest of our online offerings.
3. Searchable calendar of events: Want to find a fun event for kids or a workshop for genealogists? Our new calendar interface provides simple ways to search by keyword, filter by event location, and by event type. You can also easily add an event to your own preferred calendar (iCal, Google, etc.) so you’ll never forget where and when to join us!
4. Featured records on the homepage: We have added a prominent spot on the homepage for highlighting relevant items from the Catalog. Check here for connections between our holdings and current events and anniversaries as well as newly-digitized records.
5. Improved search: Our new website search is designed to provide more relevant results. We’ve made the search more comprehensive as well, so you will now find results from our Presidential Library websites and the latest news from our many social media accounts.
Our website plays an essential role in helping the National Archives make access happen and connect with our customers. While most of the changes we’ve made to date are behind the scenes, these back-end upgrades are a critical first step towards a full redesign that will improve the look, navigation, and user experience. We are excited to roll out these initial changes and look forward to hearing your feedback. Add your comments below or send in to firstname.lastname@example.org.