We're back from the fire drill. Celeste J. Merryman, a psychologist and usability expert, is presenting a paper describing the evolution of an Intranet at NASA, called Inside NASA..

One set of evolving requirements:

Web Expectations are set by
- NASA Sponsor
- Project plan
- Evolving expectations that users have for web technologies.

InsideNASA is a common place to congregate for NASA business-related information.

Before InsideNASA there was no place for NASA employees to post Agency-wide announcements.

When Katrina hit, it became a valuable and necessary place to communicate emergency check-in information. (Interesting, many small businesses would do well to have such a site, even on standby.)

One Redesign team
- Geographically dispersed workgroup consisting of JPL management group and two contractors.
- A focused agenda
- a lot of teleconferences

The Numbers:

1 Set of evolving requirements
1 Intranet
1 Redesign team
62,000 people (customers, consisting of contractors, customers, employees, etc.)


1. Bring something to the NASA Sponsor to critique (wireframe)
2. Ask people what they think
3. Incorporate what we discovered into an intranet site
4. Open access to the beta for comments
5. Go live

Bringing the Rock
(JPL humor: JPL folks like to collect rocks... from the Moon, Mars, and beyond... So much that they build little robots to go and do the collecting for them.)
- Start with a detailed wireframe mock-up (she designed it in PowerPoint)
- A conglomerate composed of a number of sources.

(There are apparently no web designers or geologists in the audience because several jokes just flew over everyone's head and smashed into the wall at the back of the room.)

Breakdown of the "rock"

- Known weaknesses, including the overall organizational structure of the web site, visual aspects, and search.
- Basic Research, people remember information connected to images better than text and they remember words better if organized into categories.
- Textbook usability and web design, navigation isn't just a feature of a Web site - it IS the Web site. (See book "Don't make me think" about web design)
- "Clear, well-thought-out navigation is one of the best opportunities a site has to create a good impression (Krug, 2006)  [and make them want to come back. IBM, are you reading this!)
- Internet Web sites; looked at the way different web sites provided information to their visitors. Examined how some of the top ten web sites (search Google) addressed some of their known weaknesses. When you visit a site, you'll know in 30 seconds if you want to stay there.

What we wanted to know

- Their reactions to our detailed wire-frame
- What was important or valuable
- What features did users want (remember that NASA visitors range from under 20 to over 70 in age)

What they said

They liked:
- wireframe and direction
- news from NASA headquarters
- up-to-date org charts; very helpful
- Ability to search across multiple NASA data repositories, also important
- Finding information pertaining to doing their job, very important

Did not want/Was not important:
- Social networking (surprising)
- Accessing information feeds via RSS - moderately important
- Access to timekeeping - not important at all
- Personalization of InsideNASA - not important at all

Surprising that RSS is only moderately important.

They grab from existing content and reuse it.

Break in blogging - I have some questions I want to ask...

Showed screen shots of before/after.

22 Portlets reduced to 12
Improved look and navigation
Administrator Q&A on home page
Deputy blog/journaling
Improved search

Feedback - shared feedback from users: "...clean, slick, and intuitive..."

What we processed

section 508 (compliance)
Need to have real-time information for NASA

Success Story
Too many points to blog but the big one is to keep the user in mind at all times.

Nice job. Thanks, Celeste!

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