Introducing the Building Beta Series
The USAGov program has been developing a new iteration of our bilingual sites, USA.gov and USAGov en Español. In the process of building beta.USA.gov and beta.USA.gov en Español, we’ve been rethinking our work style and priorities. Follow the “Building Beta” series to learn how we’re reimagining the way we approach product management, usability, accessibility, content creation, analytics, and outreach. And see our previous post highlighting the ways our beta sites are different from their predecessors.
A New Foundation To Build Beta
As we've been developing new versions of our websites, our leaders at USAGov saw the benefit of adopting more product management principles across the USAGov program. They created a new product team to lead in building the beta sites. This transition to a more robust product management model has made an impact on our decision-making processes, work practices, and culture.
The diverse beta product team makes the decisions for all aspects of beta site creation. The team is composed of members of functional teams from across USAGov. It includes a content designer, a UX researcher, an engineer, and a product manager. This empowers those closest to the product to make informed decisions, with each member sharing their expert view.
How we define and measure success has also changed as a result of using product management principles. For years, we tracked the number of unique website visits as one of our success metrics. Now, we measure our success by how well we’re helping users complete tasks and find the answers they need. We track this through user testing, analytics, and customer satisfaction.
The shift to product management also made more space for experimentation and learning. We’re more easily able to try new approaches, learn from them, and pivot if necessary. New internal practices we've implemented allow for open cross-team communication. We also host regular retrospective meetings to help us reflect on the process of building a website feature. These sessions allow us to learn from and improve our workflows. As we test new approaches, we are able to pivot when another approach seems more beneficial. This way of work has connected silos, increased efficiency, and encouraged innovation.
We will continue to iterate on our work processes and can already see a difference with more effective collaboration in building new website features, helping us meet our mission of delivering a bilingual product that puts the public and their needs first.