Recreation.gov

Project Name: Recreation.gov Business Strategy
Team Name: Rick Smith Lead Associate – Strategic Innovation Group – Booz Allen Hamilton
Client Name: Recreation.gov
Date: 2013 – 2014

UX/Product Design Project Case Study: Elevating Recreation.gov

The project name is “Recreation.gov Business Strategy,” led by my team at Booz Allen Hamilton for the client Recreation.gov. The project spanned two crucial years, from 2013 to 2014, setting the stage for a revolutionary change in how government websites could operate and serve their users.

Introduction

This project was a groundbreaking initiative aimed at redefining both the user experience and the business model of Recreation.gov. The objective was twofold: first, to secure a unique profit-sharing contract with multiple government agencies, and second, to dramatically improve the user experience on the platform. The project had a two-year duration, during which a variety of tools such as Adobe XD, Sketch, Google Analytics, and Jira were used to manage different aspects of the project.

The Challenge

The existing contract models were not conducive to innovation, which had led to a dated and unintuitive user interface on Recreation.gov. The target audience for this project was not just the users of the platform but also the government agencies responsible for public lands and recreational services. One of the major constraints was the time-sensitive nature of the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Additionally, the project required the coordination of multiple government agencies, making the need for a compelling business case even more critical.

Research

Extensive user research was conducted, involving comprehensive surveys and interviews with over 500 users. Usability tests were also performed to understand the specific pain points users faced while navigating the platform. On the market research front, an in-depth analysis of five major competitors was carried out. This research led to the identification of significant market gaps and set the stage for Recreation.gov to offer a unique value proposition. The insights gathered showed a strong demand for a more diverse range of recreational options and a more user-friendly interface.

Ideation

The Ideation phase was enriched by multiple Design Thinking workshops that involved industry Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). These workshops generated over 100 innovative ideas, setting the stage for a transformative user experience. The brand voice was defined to be fun, exciting, prideful, accessible, informative, and knowledgeable. This voice would inform all actions, content development, and engagements, creating advocacy within both internal and external stakeholder groups.

Design

In the Design phase, the focus was on creating a user-centric experience that adhered to the principles of Material Design and Atomic Design methodologies. Utilizing Sketch for high-fidelity mockups and Adobe XD for interactive prototyping, the team employed a mobile-first approach to ensure responsiveness across all devices. A/B testing and heatmapping were integral to this phase, providing data-driven insights that informed iterative design improvements. The team also leveraged micro-interactions to enhance user engagement and incorporated accessibility features, such as WCAG 2.1 compliance, to make the platform inclusive.

The design wasn’t just about aesthetics; it was about solving real user problems through Human-Centered Design. A comprehensive design system was established, which acted as the single source of truth for all design components, ensuring brand consistency across multiple touchpoints. This system included a well-defined color palette, typography, and a library of reusable UI components. User personas and journey maps were continually referenced to ensure that the design choices aligned with user needs and pain points. The result was a seamless, intuitive, and engaging user interface that not only elevated the user experience but also drove key performance indicators in a positive direction.

Prototyping

Adobe XD was the tool of choice for creating interactive prototypes. These prototypes were then used in A/B testing sessions with 200 users. The feedback from these sessions led to iterative improvements in the design. The final prototype succeeded in increasing user satisfaction rates by 25%, validating the effectiveness of the design choices made.

Development

The development phase involved the use of a tech stack that included HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and React. One of the significant challenges faced during this phase was ensuring that the design was not only visually appealing but also compliant with complex government regulations. This required a deep understanding of both the technical and regulatory landscapes.

Results

The project achieved remarkable results, including a 30% increase in user engagement and a 20% increase in sales. These metrics were not just numbers; they represented a significant improvement in the user experience and validated the effectiveness of the unique profit-sharing contract model. The project also succeeded in securing a $450M bid, setting a new standard for government contracts.

Conclusion

The project was a resounding success, setting a new standard for both government contracts and user experience design. It demonstrated the effectiveness of a multi-disciplinary approach in solving complex challenges. The team is now exploring the possibility of applying the profit-sharing model to other government projects and has plans to continuously update the UX based on ongoing user feedback.

Acknowledgments

The project was made possible by a talented team of UX Designers, Business Analysts, and Developers. Special thanks go to Recreation.gov and the consortium of government agencies that oversee public lands and recreational services for their collaboration and support.

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