8.1 Applying User Experience (UX) Design to Improve the U.S. Drought Portal

Wednesday, 15 January 2020: 3:00 PM
252B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Kathryn Bevington, CIRES, Boulder, CO; and S. Ansari, R. G. Bilotta, A. M. Courtright, and A. Lang

The U.S. Drought Portal, launched in 2008 per the mandate of NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Public Law (115-423), is a national internet-based clearinghouse for the collection, integration, provision, and communication of drought information, including data and models, forecasts and assessments, resources for planning, impacts collection and analysis, and mitigation information. The Portal serves hundreds of thousands of users each year and supports users from the public to decision-makers at local to national scales. In an effort to respond to evolving user needs, NIDIS, the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), and UNC Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) partnered to conduct user-based research and design an improved Portal user experience. The Portal team utilized a variety of user experience (UX) design techniques, including card sorting, interviews, surveys, usability testing, Value Proposition Canvas exercises, heat mapping, and analytics. The UX research and testing results were then combined with internal and external stakeholder feedback and the guidelines provided by the U.S. Web Design Standards to create a comprehensive design strategy. The Portal redesign project serves as an example of how information providers can incorporate UX best practices into the development process and design user-friendly interfaces that more efficiently disseminate complex information and better serve end-users.
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