The National Archives’ Presidential Libraries and Museums preserve and provide access to the records of 14 presidential administrations. In support of this mission, we developed an ongoing program to modernize the technologies and designs that support the user experience of our Presidential Library websites. Through this program, we have updated the websites of the Hoover, Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon Presidential Libraries.
Recently we launched an updated website for the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum. The website, which received more than 227,000 visitors over the past year, now improves access to the Clinton Presidential Library holdings by providing better performance, improving accessibility, and delivering a mobile-friendly experience. The updated website’s platform and design, based in the Drupal web content management framework, enables the Clinton Presidential Library staff to make increasing amounts of resources available online—especially while working remotely during the COVID-19 crisis.
To achieve this website redesign, staff from the National Archives’ Office of Innovation, with both web development and user experience expertise, collaborated with staff from the Clinton Presidential Library to define goals for the new website. Our user experience team first launched the project by interviewing staff of the Clinton Presidential Library to determine the necessary improvements for the updated website to facilitate their work. Next, the user experience team researched the Library’s customers—researchers, students, educators, and the general public—by analyzing user analytics, heatmaps, recordings of real users navigating the site, and top search referrals. Based on the data collected, the user experience team produced wireframes and moodboards that informed the final site design. The team also refined the website’s information architecture to improve the user experience and meet the Clinton Library staff’s needs.
Throughout the project, the team used Agile project management development processes to deliver iterative changes focused on constant improvement. To be Agile, specific goals were outlined, defined, and distributed among team members for mutual agreement. Work on website designs and features was broken into development “sprints”—two-week periods to complete defined amounts of work. At the end of each development sprint, the resulting designs and features were demonstrated to the Clinton Presidential Library staff stakeholders for feedback which helped further refine the website.
The project to update the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum website was guided by the National Archives’ strategic goals—to Make Access Happen, Connect with Customers, Maximize NARA’s Value to the Nation, and Build our Future Through our People. By understanding the needs of the Clinton Library’s online users and staff, and leveraging the in-house expertise of our web development and user experience staff, the National Archives is providing an improved website experience for all visitors. Please visit the site, and let us know what you think!