Lessons in Design, Control, and Teenagers: Revamping the NASA History Website
MARA Guest Lecture
As the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 loomed, interest in NASA history became a national pastime. Stories of where one (or one’s parents) was, how it felt, and memorabilia collected at the time were pretty much guaranteed to keep a party conversation going. All would be well until someone would turn to the NASA website to try to find a small fact that couldn’t quite be recalled. That’s when the embarrassing pause in conversation would start because the NASA History website did not function in a way that supported modern users. As our metrics showed the climb of users with a decreasing bounce time, it was obvious that the long-debated overhaul could not wait. With the blessing of my wonderful boss, the support and talent of my visual designer, and the patience of teenagers, the overhaul rolled out publicly just in time for Anniversary. Much was learned along the way and makes for an excellent case study in finding resources, capitalizing on hidden talents, and why Pop-Tarts are still important in web development.