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What the Heck Happened to NASA.gov?
June 29, 2013

Notice anything different?

To start with, we've got a refreshed look, lightening the site's color palette. We hope this will address some of the complaints we've had about clutter and the page being hard to navigate visually. But that's just the beginning.

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You've no doubt noticed that the navigation buttons are gone from the NASA Home Page. The topics are still there in the "Popular Topics" drop-down menu to the right of the main news stories. We moved them there to make more space for live events. When we solicited feedback on what people wanted from NASA.gov, the most-popular idea (among those we could actually implement) was to make live events more prominent. So here is where we'll be putting links to launches, major press conferences and speeches, planetary encounters and anything else we want to draw your attention to.

There are lots of changes on the back end that will be invisible to you. We've moved to an open-source content-management system, a new content-delivery network and a new data center. Moving 10 years of content and capabilities into a new system in 13 weeks is a challenge. We’re doing our best but with a compressed transition schedule and a new publishing infrastructure there will be some growing pains, and I’m sure some items will be missed. There will be some 404 errors. There will be some content you're used to seeing that will take us a while to rebuild. But we’ll get there. And this is just the beginning.

This first transition is just the start. We'll continue developing the new tools through September, and early next year will begin laying plans for an overhaul of the site, our first since 2007. When we're done, we expect to have a vastly improved site, both for users and editors. Related content should be more effectively presented together. Multimedia and social media should be more tightly integrated with web content, while respecting the different preferences of social-media and web audiences.

And I can't finish without offering many thanks to our outgoing vendor, eTouch Systems, and their subcontractors. They took over management of the NASA.gov infrastructure in 2003, moved us out the basement of NASA Headquarters and into a real data center, and helped us handle a whole series of high-traffic events --- starting, sadly, with the loss of Columbia and finishing with thrill of Curiosity's landing. Thanks, folks.

Onward. I hope you're looking forward to it as much as we are.

 

 

-- Brian Dunbar, Internet Services Manager, NASA Office of Communications

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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: Brian Dunbar