U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services

Fixing the Country’s Most Important Immigration Website

USCIS website on laptop

TBG & U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services

After the bumpy launch of HealthCare.gov in 2013, the idea of an easy-to-use government website free of glitches has become more of a punch line than reality. But in our work for USCIS.gov, TBG (The Berndt Group) did just that. Working through a prime contractor, our team led the redesign of the site–the award-winning website for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security.

USCIS is the country’s watchdog agency for lawful immigration. The agency grants immigration and citizenship benefits and processes all requests for refugee applications, immigration visas and citizen and naturalization requests. If someone wants to fulfill their dream of living in this country and becoming a U.S. citizen, they (or their delegates) must frequently interact with the site to download forms, understand the process, read citizenship and green card rules and check the status of their case.

That’s a key reason why this project was one of the most gratifying projects under our belt at TBG. Our team had the opportunity to fix numerous usability problems on the site, making the lives of countless immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers infinitely easier. In fact, we rapidly accelerated the project to make dramatic usability changes as quickly as possible.

Our task was to develop an overarching Web strategy to improve user experience at all levels for the site. Our team embarked on extensive research to inform our decisions at every step. We facilitated focus groups and strategic planning with immigration advocacy groups and end-users. We also conducted a review of best practices for government and community sites.

The new site was a major improvement in usability, customer service, and messaging. The site has been modified since its launch, but many of the original usability and information architecture concepts remain.

TBG received a Vendor Excellence Award from the Department of Homeland Security for our role in the project.

Live Site

What We Did

Technology Partners

Awards

Usability & User Experience

Usability & User Experience

TBG developed a user focused information architecture for the site with a design compliant with Section 508–a federal mandate pertaining to all government websites that requires them to be accessible by people with disabilities.

Enterprise Content Management

Enterprise Content Management

The site uses the Vignette Application Portal and Vignette Content Management System and takes into account best practices in usability, intention-based navigation, intuitive searching, and document archiving and delivery.

Plain Language & Web Analytics

Plain Language & Web Analytics

The original site was heavy on confusing jargon and felt like the online version of bureaucratic red tape. TBG’s reorganized version asked users questions about what they wanted to do, leading them down carefully constructed, branching paths to connect them with the people and information they needed. This approach was based on the most popular user actions. By creating a tree structure to mimic customer service line experience, we helped the client effectively reduce call volume. The project was also the first introduction of significant Web analytics to the site.