Project: NCSES Web Support



Web publishing, modernization, and application development to support scientific data dissemination.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

NCSES Web Support: Summary

PenBay Media provides web support services to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation (NSF). PenBay Media develops and maintains the public NCSES website and related web applications. Work on this project includes user interface design, information architecture, data visualization, graphic design, web application development, technical documentation, quality assurance, and technical guidance related to the NCSES web presence. PenBay Media provides a variety of technical and project management services supporting NCSES in the publication of data, data analysis and innovative tools to the web, ensuring that U.S. Federal requirements like Section 508 requirements are met.

Challenges

When PenBay Media started the contract, the NCSES website had several issues including
  • a design that did not allow users to easily find information
  • a mass of old content that hampered design updates
  • a build up of technical debt which made adding new features or capabilities difficult

Our challenge was to address these problems while concurrently maintaining the daily operation of the site, supporting the release of new publications and data to the public.

Solutions

PenBay Media has supported the operation and enhancement of the NCSES public website by providing effective project management, technical expertise, recommendations that are both innovative and reflective of best practices, and high quality implementations. In 2013, we deployed a responsive, mobile-friendly design on the NCSES website that became a model for NSF. We successfully implemented a web content archiving process and system, interfacing with a third-party archiving site, that reduced the number of site files by 69% and facilitates the upkeep of pages and site security. PenBay Media maintains a publication tracking system and is engaged in a multi-phase task to develop a custom web content management system for authoring, review, editing, tracking, and publishing of all NCSES publications including handling of tabular scientific data, interactive data visualizations, templating, and complex workflows.

Results:

PenBay Media has been able to support the requirements of NCSES to provide a high quality public website and many improvements to website usability, accessibility, performance, and security.

"The contract team has proposed and developed innovative solutions to website presentation issues. They have produced attractive, intuitive web front ends for the Center to showcase our statistics as well as allowing users to get more in depth information than would have been available in print format alone... The team continues to research and develop innovative solutions to issues confronting the Center's website. For example, an archiving solution has been identified and is being developed where the Center's older publications will be housed in an onĀ­line archive, but linked seamlessly to the website. This solution will lighten the file burden on the NSF infrastructure and reduce security vulnerabilities while maintaining availability of the content for users." --NCSES

We have developed innovative, user-friendly, and attractive approaches to the organization and presentation of data on the NCSES website and in the Science & Engineering Indicators report website, such as: responsive website design; interactive data visualizations; new data table views; tools for building custom charts; topical tagging and navigation features; and custom PDF printing capabilities. We worked within NSF and NCSES technical and style requirements, while enhancing and modernizing website presentation and technologies.

PROJECT DETAILS

Client National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Dates 2012-2017
Website http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Skills Application Development
Web Design
Graphic Design
Document Publishing
Information Architecture
Agile Development
Data Visualizations
Content Management Systems
Quality Assurance
Project Management
Technical Documentation
Section 508
Web Analytics