The current administration has called on federal agencies to focus on transforming federal customer experience. In response, the National Archives is embedding customer experience initiatives and principles into the strategic goals for the agency. We are also developing an agency-wide customer experience program. As exciting and energizing as our new efforts are, focusing on customer experience is not new to the Agency. Cultivating public participation and access to our records has always been fundamental to our mission.
Several years ago, NARA web staff participated in the OPM Center for Leadership’s training for User Experience (UX) and human-centered design. We also brought on a new web designer who is skilled in UX practices and human-centered design principles. NARA published our first digital personas in 2017 as part of our web and social media research. We have since updated our personas and will continue to do so as our understanding of our customers evolves. During NARA’s joint conference with Virginia Tech last year, we developed a list of 92 user stories (see pages 26-32). As NARA’s web staff have developed experience and expertise with human-centered design, the team has offered consultation, training, and technical assistance to other staff throughout NARA who have sought to make improvements to the user experience of their web content.
One of the most critical projects that the agency is currently working on is the launch of the 1950 Census. For the past year, our staff have been focused on user research and design for the website that will be launched on April 1. The team conducted user research interviews with internal and external stakeholders and through the interviews they were able to identify specific design and functional requirements that were vital in order to best meet the needs of our customers. In addition, members of our web team designed the wireframes and mockups which were used to develop the visual layout of the 1950 Census website.
NARA staff continue to learn and attend UX trainings, the most recent include: “Participatory Design,” “Designing Accessible Communications,” “Problem-Framing for Solution-Finding,” “UX Certification Program,” the “Government User Experience Summit,” and “Human-Centered Design Fundamentals.”
How You Can Help
Currently, we are looking for feedback from interested Catalog users of all levels to help us create the Next Generation Catalog. Also we are seeking users and developers for input on the new Catalog application programming interface (API). If you choose to sign up, we may contact you in the future to optionally participate in activities like focus groups, usability tests, and more. It’s an exciting way to shape the future of the National Archives Catalog!
Interested in participating? Please complete our survey to share your experiences with the Catalog and to be placed on a list to learn more about upcoming user research opportunities.
There is no obligation to participate, and you can request to be removed from the list at any time. The survey will be open until February 28, 2022. Thank you for helping us to maintain our focus on your user experience.