Evaluating the Climate.gov Web Portal—A Key Resource for Climate Information

Friday 2:30pm REC Center Large Ice Overlook Room


Susan Lynds, University of Colorado at Boulder
Susan Sullivan, University of Colorado at Boulder
Anne Gold, University of Colorado at Boulder
Karin Kirk, Freelance Science Writer and Geoscientist
Amanda Morton, University of Colorado at Boulder
Government web portals are important trusted sources for science educators to retrieve content and data for instruction. Climate.gov is one such web portal, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide educators, scientists, decision makers, and the general public with authoritative climate information, data, and resources. To ensure they are serving their audience, NOAA conducts regular usability studies. They use the Quality of Relationship (QoR) metric, which was developed for assessing relationships between agencies and their audiences, to measure how well they are serving their visitors. The most recent evaluation of the four target audiences of Climate.gov was conducted during 2013 and 2014 using the QoR approach.

The QoR construct is based upon five dimensions:
-Awareness—knowledge that the agency exists, what it does, and why.
-Trust—perception that the agency's products/services are accurate, credible, and authoritative.
-Satisfaction—perception that agency's products/services are relevant, reliable, and complete.
-Usability—regular use of agency's products/services; perception that they are easy to use.
-Control Mutuality—perception that interaction with and influence on the agency is possible.

In this evaluation, data were gathered using four methodologies: (1) a pop-up survey; (2) web analytics; (3) usability studies; and (4) telephone interviews with power users. The data were analyzed to generate QoR measures for each audience type and each dimension and to provide the agency with recommendations for enhancing the web portal.

Our results show that the QoR values for Climate.gov have increased from 2012 to 2014. The website design, content, and approach are largely meeting the needs and expectations of the four audiences. Possible areas for enhancement include improving interconnectivity between website sections and enhancing availability through mobile devices. In this presentation, we will discuss the suite of evaluation techniques and share key findings, including user interest levels and perceptions of resource usability and credibility.

Presentation Media

Evaluating the Climate.gov Web Portal (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 2.1MB Jul16 15)