After 20 years on the Web, the U.S. Census Bureau launched a new website design yesterday.
The site, which gets nearly 5 million hits per month, features a focus on interactive design in its latest iteration. According to a Census Bureau release, the site provides billions of statistics in various forms — from the regular census every decade to monthly economic and demographic statistics from the American Community Survey.
“Our goal has always been to democratize the statistics we produce and to put them directly in the hands of the American people to make decisions based on accurate and factual data,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said in the release. “The tools we use have changed over the years, and this redesigned website is our latest innovation to give statistical information we collect from the people, back to the people.”
The Census Bureau was one of the first government agencies to gain an online presence in 1994, containing data almost exclusively from the 1990 census. Before the Web, that data would have been released only in a print report.
One of the innovations the Census Bureau boasts is navigation. From years of user feedback, the site redesign provides improved access to information with multiple entry points to data. Pages will now include links to related content and allow users to connect to related information.
The site also includes an improved search feature to provide income, poverty and populations statistics, all grouped with the traditional census results.
Businesses should also have easier access through the expanded search function, which now includes the North American Industry Classification System codes — standards used by federal statistical agencies to classify business establishments.
Although the site went live yesterday, the new design and some of the site’s updated search functions will not go live right away. The Census Bureau reports the transition will occur in the coming months.
The redesign is part of a Census Bureau effort to provide a wider variety of online tools for mobile and stationary devices.
“The Census Bureau’s centuries-old mission reached a turning point 20 years ago as it entered the digital age,” Thompson said. “Instead of looking up tables on magnetic tapes and in massive books available only in libraries, you could find the reports online on our site. Today, our new website gives the public 24/7 access to statistics about our ever-growing and changing population and economy with intuitive tools to access them.”