This is the first in a series of posts introducing each of the products we’ve been working on as part of Project MyGov.
The government web is two things: big, and distributed. (Did we mention big?) The General Services Administration (GSA) runs USA.gov, a central site that provides a top-level view into the government web. That works well if you’re on USA.gov, but what if you’re on some other part of the government web? Shouldn’t you be able to see other resources, programs, benefits, services, forms, etc. from across the federal government if they are relevant to what you’re trying to accomplish?
Here at Project MyGov, we think the answer to that question is: “Yes.”
So we built the MyGov Discovery Bar, which acts as a persistent tool to help you navigate the government web. When looking at a government web page, the Discovery Bar uses its knowledge of what the page is about to recommend other related pages. Just like when Amazon says, “People who bought this item, also bought this one,” we recommend other pages across the government web footprint (regardless of what site or agency they live on) to you, when you need it most.
To do this, we’ve built the Discovery Bar to unobtrusively slide into view as you reach the end of a page. (We figure if you’re that far down the page, you’re ready for more information.) We’ve tried to make it easy for you to control the experience, so if you feel like the bar is in the way, you can minimize or close it completely.
We also want to help improve your overall experience when visiting government websites. If you expand the bar, a few options present themselves. You can view tags associated with the page you’re looking at. You can even add or edit tags to help make our service better. You can provide feedback to the government on the page you’re viewing, and help us figure out which are the most helpful of our pages. And if you’re just not finding what you’re looking for, you can do a search across all the government web sites.
We’re working with agencies to get the Discovery Bar set up as a standard across the federal web; state and local governments are welcome to participate as well. In the meantime, we’re doing testing as part of our private beta, and will update here when the bar is more generally available. You can sign up for the beta.
We’re pretty excited about the Discovery Bar, and think it’s a great step toward making the federal web even more user-centric.
Keep an eye for for Part II of the series: Introducing your MyGov Account.