Several years ago, I listened to a keynote speech at the annual SXSW Interactive Festival where the presenter talked about how their corporate org chart had their customers located at the center of the diagram. This implied that customers were not only important to the organization but that customers had a role and a voice in shaping the organization and the way it conducted business.
Change is Coming – Catch the Wave
Not long ago, applying this philosophy to government websites would have seemed nearly impossible. However, sites like FCC.gov, ConsumerFinance.gov and FederalRegister.gov have shown that it is possible to re-imagine how the government engages with the public. Also, the current “.gov”reform effort clearly shows that a wave of positive change is coming to federal websites. As these efforts continue to gain momentum, SAMHSA chooses to be out in front of this wave and, in fact, be part of the leading edge. To accomplish this, SAMHSA is initiating a website improvement project, Project Evolve, designed to ensure that stakeholder feedback is one of key elements driving improvements on SAMHSA.gov.
SAMHSA has already demonstrated its leadership in using the principles of open government with its online forums on agency Strategic Initiatives and the Definition of Recovery. As part of our web redesign efforts, SAMHSA is committed to building on these efforts and that we use all of the tools at our disposal to gather meaningful feedback from our stakeholders.
Keeping it Real – A Dose of Reality
This project will take time. There are no quick fixes to complex problems. This is especially true when the desired outcome is a website that will not only serve the needs of today, but will have the flexibility and agility to respond as technology and priorities change. While some changes will be easy to spot, others are more structural in nature and thus will not have the same “wow” factor as a new design or layout. These invisible changes are nonetheless essential and are what will make the SAMHSA website the go-to destination for behavioral health information on the web.
Now it’s Your Turn – Give us a Hand
With the launch of Project Evolve, we are adding a new category to this blog where we will post updates on progress, provide more insight into the web vision SAMHSA is developing and present ideas for discussion and feedback.
As part of the first post, we are not only announcing this project, we are also looking for help. One of the first tasks for the SAMHSA team is the development of a new Information Architecture (IA) for SAMHSA.gov. This new site organization will set the groundwork for many of the changes to come and we need your help in taking this important first step. We are asking anyone interested to choose the most appropriate link from the two below to help us better understand how information should be categorized and organized on the SAMHSA.gov. The “card sort” exercise is very intuitive and expertise in web design is NOT needed. This activity should only take 15-20 minutes, so please consider participating.
If you have any questions, drop a comment on the post and we will respond as soon as we can.