Well, it’s that time again. New Year, New President (sort of…), New Resolutions, New GovLoop. For those that remember, it was just about a year ago this week that we rolled out a whole bunch of new changes to the site at the beginning of 2012. We put a lot of effort into building out our topics pages in an effort to highlight and feature all of the great content that is created on a daily basis by GovLoopers across the country and beyond. We also cleaned up the homepage by consolidating space to make it easier and faster for you to find the content and questions that matter. For the most part though, the changes we launched at the beginning of 2012 were functionality based. You can read all about it here.
What we’re excited to roll out this week is a phase two of sorts to the changes that we began last year. As I’m sure many have already noticed, our efforts this time around were focused largely on aesthetics and not so much on adding new features and functionality. We’ll save those for another time These minor changes represent a refresh and modernization of a site who’s design for the most part has not been touched since it’s inception almost 5 years ago when the web was a much different place. This of course brings with it a whole slew of potential issues considering the internet is continually evolving, and the difference in web design/development technologies and techniques between 2008 and 2013 are considerable. So the changes we are rolling out today are not simply change for change’s sake (a web design practice that I am actually not a huge fan of), but a purposeful step towards improving the look, feel, function, and usability of GovLoop and setting us up for success in the future as we, as a community, continue to grow and evolve.
For the curious and/or confused, but also simply for the sake of practicality as well as transparency, here is a quick breakdown on a few of the actual changes that you may notice around the site:
- New header. This one was tough for us (as we recognize may be for some of you), but after a lot of research, internal meetings, external meetings, and plenty of input from users, we decided it was time for a graduation of sorts. Still the same GovLoop, just sleeker and simpler and therefore a little less dated and distracting.
- New navigation part 1. Aesthetically, the tweaks to the actual navigation bar may not even be noticeable, but they are there. We went subtle, but still modern while also paying homage to the GovLoop green that we all know and love.
- New navigation part 2. Structurally, you may also notice a few changes to our main navigation. Not too significant (more of a reshuffling than anything else), but nonetheless, anytime a website’s main navigation changes it can be a bit confusing at first. Our primary goal with reorganizing our navigation was to simply make GovLoop’s core content more easily and directly accessible. Through detailed site analytics as well as comments and meetings with users, we knew we had to make a few changes so the content that people really cared about was featured more clearly. These changes can be broken down into three parts:
- You will see that Members, Groups, and My Profile information have come down out of the utility navigation and can now be found under the Community tab in the main navigation. This is where you will find all the links you need to access your GovLoop profile information and the sites more social aspects, including the Discussion board.
- Also, the previously named Communities tab and it’s pages can now be found under the more aptly named Topics tab.
- And finally, Directory and Insights have exchanged places with the Training(Events) tab, previously located in the utility nav.
For a bit of extra clarity on how things have shifted, I’ve included a quick, unannotated side by side image of the old vs. updated navigation area:
In addition to the above changes happening this week, and again in the name of transparency, I’ll go ahead and note that we here at GovLoop are committed to being more agile across the board, but specifically as it relates to our web and product development. Perhaps you could even call it a resolution of ours in 2013. Our hope is that these recent changes, which we’ve deliberately kept on the smaller side (relatively speaking), lay a solid foundation for us to more consistently improve and build on the GovLoop platform going forward.
As alluded to above, the stagnation of any website (including those of Government agencies) can cause all sorts of problems. From incompatible and deprecated code structures to distracting outdated design standards to lapses in security, the internet and the framework that runs it is constantly changing. If any website is unable to stay up-to-date, the potential risks and costs involved grow with each passing year. We have, admittedly, been a bit behind the curve. Our goal now is to get ahead of it.
Question and/or comments? This perhaps goes without saying, but as with any refresh, if you happen upon any bugs or issues, please let us know and we will do our best to address them asap. Feel free to message myself directly at jeff [at] govloop [dot] com or Mr. Ressler himself at founder [at] govloop [dot] com.
On a related note, as we’ve done in the past and mentioned above, we’re always looking for potential features and ideas to add to our GovLoop product roadmap. So I’ll put the question out there again:
What kind of features would you like to see here on GovLoop in future iterations?