The New York Times did a write-up of the NASA.gov site which CM's Toronto office helped re-launch recently. We've been calling it "NASA 5.0" internally as the launch coincides with NASA's 50th birthday—so as you can imagine, it's got some symbolic significance. I've been checking out the site all morning and I'm really encouraged by a few things that I'm seeing considering that this was a large scale effort of a government website. Below are a few features that caught my eye:
Content Rich Homepage
Conventional wisdom on "corporate" Web sites used to be that you had to get all your content above the fold if you wanted people to see it. Nasa.gov uses the "accordion" interface convention to bring additional content above the fold, but celebrates that the site has valuable content to offer by putting a healthy dose of it on the homepage.
Social Bookmarking Options
I really liked how I was presented with multiple ways to bookmark the site to suite my preference. A simple tactic, but nice to see on a site like this.
Didn't expect to see a tag cloud on a NASA site, but given the content rich nature of the experience, it kind of makes sense. Quickly calls out what others are looking at.
I really liked this touch. In today's ADD-driven world, we need visual cues to help us prioritize things. This is a nice simple way to prioritize content that Nasa feels is important (without being too heavy-handed).
Launch Calendar + Mission Milestones
Thought this was REALLY cool and effective. My guess is that the insight that drove this tactic was that "space exploration junkies" like to follow NASA's progress on a daily if not hourly basis. What a nice way to provide this info.
Liked the horizontal use of the "accordion" convention here. Flipping through images was enjoyable, and I could download high quality photos for wallpaper etc.
Blog + Feed Integration
Something every large scale site will have to come to terms with in one way or another. How do you aggregate feeds and blog content? Was nice to see that NASA promotes blogs and puts all related feeds in one place.
Cool stuff from our folks in the Toronto office. My guess is that they've been working their asses off on this in a short amount of time—so kudos to you. A nice experience that feels informative, useful and on brand.