Since the beginning of this administration, Secretary DeVos has fostered creativity and innovation at all levels, urging state and local leaders to “rethink” education for our country’s students, while urging the Department of Education to rethink how we treat students and them serve and parents.
Faced with this challenge, we set out to “rethink” the primary way the American public interacts with us online: Ed.gov. The department’s website is the primary gateway for administrators, teachers, parents, and families to connect with the department, learn about our programs, and access key resources. We knew that a strong, user-friendly redesign would help the public connect to critical information and appropriate employees, reduce frustrations, and improve the overall user experience.
As part of this rethinking We started an open innovation challenge in March to improve the overall quality of the design, navigation, interactivity and presentation of the department’s website. We used Challenge.gov, a government website that encourages the public to help solve challenges unique to federal agencies, advertise small prototypes for redesign, and evaluate prototypes for innovation, design quality, and ability to meet federal requirements.
The suggestions were evaluated based on the following criteria: 1) non-traditional enhancements that maximize the user experience; 2) new adjustments and innovations in color, layout, typography, animation, illustration, video and photography; and 3) new technologies and innovative tools. They were also checked for the overall quality of the proposed redesign, taking into account: 1) clean, simple, modern aesthetics; 2) easy navigation; and 3) integration of social media, video, photography and plug-ins.
We received an amazing 60 submissions, and after several rounds of reviews, 22 experts from across the department identified the most innovative, trend-setting, and user-friendly designs. The main prize goes to the U.Group from Washington, DC. The first runner-up is Agileana from Brambleton, VA. The companies share a cash prize of $ 50,000.
“We are honored to be able to redesign the Department of Education website to better meet user needs,” said Lena Trudeau, U.Group CEO. “Our team has used its know-how in digital transformation to develop a concept that is human, beautiful and functional. We hope our design provides valuable insights into unlocking the potential of ED.gov. “
The U.Group provided a people-centric, action-oriented platform where the information Americans need is always at hand. Instead of just relying on beautiful design, the U.Group combined their creativity with in-depth research, content strategy and experience working with government, consumer and educational organizations. To respond to this challenge, the U.Group hosted user interviews, carried out landscape analyzes and completely redesigned the site’s information architecture. A prototype of the winning design can be displayed Here.
Agileana investigated who would likely visit the website and why, what devices they would likely use to navigate the website, how fast those devices are, what special skills or disabilities they might have, and under what circumstances they could visit the website. The company tested the solution with a focus group representing the target segments of the department’s web visitors, watching, and hearing their feedback. Agileana iteratively improved the prototype based on their feedback. A prototype of their design can be viewed Here.
“Our team took an agile, iterative, and user-centric approach to designing the challenge to make the ED.gov experience more engaging and accessible to visitors,” said Blake Newman, CEO of Agileana. “With the pandemic in particular, we were honored to be part of this important effort as more government agencies seek to provide citizen services over the Internet rather than in person.”
As we continue to ponder and rethink how to quickly get information to those who need it most, we are excited to take this great first step towards a new ED.gov. The next steps include summarizing the best elements of the various proposals into a comprehensive refurbishment plan, and eventually implementing a new design. Our goal is a dramatically improved ED.gov. Interested parties should monitor this Contract Opportunities Department forecast Further information on the expected procurement method, the type of competition, the expected application and award dates, the contact point and other relevant information.
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