U.S. Office of Government Ethics

A Best Practice Example of Federal Government Website Design

Rebranding of the Organization

Rebranding of the Organization

A key part of the project involved rebranding and repositioning of the agency.  (TBG) The Berndt Group redesigned the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) logo, replacing the previous, somewhat generic “bird-in-a-circle” design with a strong, contemporary text-based treatment.  TBG also repositioned the agency, clarifying its mission with a direct, descriptive tagline, “Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch."

OGE
Best Practice Design for the Federal Government

Best Practice Design for the Federal Government

Forward-thinking web design that follows best practices is far from the norm–especially when it comes to government websites.  One of the primary goals of the OGE.gov redesign project was to develop a design that creates the impression of a professional, organized, sophisticated government organization.  The new design not only accomplished this, but did so in the form of a highly usable site with a refined and distinctive design.

OGE
Usability Overhaul

Usability Overhaul

The redesigned OGE website moved away from a department-based structure and focused instead on the needs of OGE’s users.  In order to determine users’ needs, TBG engaged in a deep discovery process, which included stakeholder interviews, audience segmentation exercises, a User Experience Guide, wireframing and a week of one-on-one usability testing.  The end result was a highly organized and usable website built around the needs of OGE’s core audiences.

OGE Usability Overhaul
Best Practice CMS Implementation

Best Practice CMS Implementation

A key goal of the OGE website redesign project was to build a site that is easy to manage for a small group of staff.  Leveraging the feature set of the Ektron Content Management System, TBG used taxonomy to create pages that automatically populate with related links, all based on tagging of that content by non-technical OGE staff.

OGE

TBG & OGE

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) contracted with TBG (The Berndt Group) to redesign their primary website, OGE.gov.  This project that consisted of a rebranding of the agency and a complete website redesign and implementation of the site in the Ektron content management system. The end result is an excellent example of a modern, highly usable federal government website.

The previous OGE website had been developed by another vendor during a rushed project several years prior that had resulted in lost content and persistent broken links.  OGE managed the site entirely manually and there was no automation or content reuse. A large quantity of pages consisted of self-contained PDF documents with little or no descriptive metadata.  TBG worked closely with OGE to understand their internal audiences, priorities, and content and developed rational site structure that streamlined the experience of navigating to key content for those audiences.  Leveraging the power of Ektron CMS, TBG used taxonomy to automate related links so that a small group of OGE staff can manage a large amount of interrelated content.

OGE had experienced a number of usability issues with the old website that the redesign aimed to address.  In general, the site did not follow contemporary usability best practices, and was not oriented towards user tasks. Users widely reported not being able to find content they were looking for on the site.  Content was organized by type of document rather than by topic, and there was no intuitive topical organization of the content.  The redesigned site included a Topics area that broke down relevant ethics subjects into logically organized and layman-friendly sections.  Topics were tagged with relevant taxonomy terms so that related Laws & Regulations, Legal Advisories, and Education Resources appeared alongside the topic summary.  Topic pages are now among the most visited on the website and the “Gifts and Payments” topic page comes up #1 in a Google search for “gifts and payments.”

On the old site, users had to scroll through large amounts of chronologically formatted data in order to find relevant legal advisories. TBG built a powerful Legal Advisories Search tool using taxonomy that enables users to filter and search through hundreds of documents and pages.  This tool is still used on a daily basis by hundreds of ethics officials throughout the federal government as a core aspect of their job.

Issues with positioning and branding were also a major focus for the organization, as there was a great deal of confusion surrounding OGE’s purview and purpose, even from within the Federal Government. OGE fielded many inquiries that were completely unrelated to the areas it covered.  TBG worked with OGE to reposition and rebrand the organization, creating a new tagline, positioning statement, and logo.  These elements are featured prominently on the homepage and are used throughout the website and other media to clarify OGE’s mission, values and relationship with other government agencies.

Elements of this project included:

  • full re-branding for the agency, including logo design;
  • User Experience Guide;
  • discovery and consulting;
  • comprehensive Usability Testing;
  • a System Security Plan based on the standards set forth by federal agencies FISMA and NIST;
  • forward-looking and highly usable federal government website design;
  • 508, WCAG and browser-compliant HTML and CSS templates;
  • Ektron CMS-powered website with complex, taxonomy-based related link functionality;
  • Extensive on-site training;
  • System Test Plan and System testing, including W3C / WCAG compliance, Xenu Link Sleuth and Load Testing;
  • a Director’s Blog, managed in Ektron and displayed with custom templates; and
  • Executive Branch Nominations & Appointments feature allowing users to search and download financial disclosure forms for nominees and officials such as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
  • check iconOGE Prevents Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch
  • check iconFully 508 & WCAG-compliant
  • star iconSystems Security Plan Based on FISMA & NIST Standards
  • magnifying glass iconPowerful Search & Taxonomy
  • award ribbon iconBest Practices Government Site
Usability & SEO Boost from User-Centric Topical Content

Usability & SEO Boost from User-Centric Topical Content

The former OGE website did not follow contemporary usability best practices, and was not oriented towards user tasks.  Site users, including ethics officials, federal employees and OGE staff, widely reported not being able to find content they were looking for on the site. TBG added a Topics area to the site that broke down relevant ethics subjects into logically organized and layman-friendly topic pages.  These pages were tagged with relevant taxonomy terms so that relevant Laws & Regulations, Legal Advisories and Education Resources appeared alongside the body copy.  By providing pages that explain core topics combined with targeted links to related content, TBG made it easy for core OGE audiences to locate the information they seek.  These pages also contained a high concentration of relevant keywords, making them more likely to appear in Web search results. Since the launch of the new site, Topics pages, particularly those pertaining to Gifts and Payments, are among the most requested pages on the site and are heavily used by OGE’s core audiences of ethics officials and federal employees.  The OGE Topic page for “Gifts and Payments” comes up as the #1 result in a Google search for “gifts and payments.”

Adding Powerful Search & Taxonomy-Driven Filtering Capabilities

Adding Powerful Search & Taxonomy-Driven Filtering Capabilities

On the previous version of the OGE website, users had to scroll through large amounts of chronologically formatted data in order to find relevant legal advisories.  Advisories were posted as PDFs which prevented searching the text within those documents. TBG built a powerful Legal Advisories Search tool that enables users to filter and search through hundreds of pages.  Advisories are tagged with topical taxonomy, allowing users to filter on those topics, as well as by date, keyword and other facets.  PDFs were converted to HTML pages with optional PDF download, allowing users to search within the text of the advisories.  The Legal Advisories Search is the third most popular page on the website used on a daily basis by hundreds of ethics officials throughout the federal government as a core aspect of their job.  Ease of filtering and searching saves users time and delivers a vastly improved experience for OGE’s users.

Redefining the Organization with Logo, Tagline & Positioning

Redefining the Organization with Logo, Tagline & Positioning

OGE’s branding was outdated and there was a great deal of confusion surrounding OGE’s purview and purpose, even from within the federal government. OGE had been fielding many inquiries that were unrelated to the areas it covered.  TBG worked with OGE to reposition and rebrand the organization, creating a new tagline, positioning statement and logo.  The new logo updated the previous, more generic “bird-in-a-circle” look with a more modern text-centric approach.  The tagline “Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch” clearly communicated OGE’s mission both inside and outside the organization. The new OGE brand and logo created a much more contemporary feel.  Brand elements are featured prominently on the homepage and used throughout the website and other media to clarify OGE’s mission, values and relationship with other government agencies.  Repositioning the organization cut down on the number inquiries from the public for services that OGE doesn’t provide.