Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pentagon Web Site Redesigned

Via NextGov.com -

The Defense Department on Monday unveiled a fresh look for its Web site, focused on increasing two-way communication.

The redesigned site is hosted on the new URL Defense.gov and highlights social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter. The primary goal of the makeover, Pentagon officials said, is to engage the public, particularly 18 to 24 year olds.

"We need to embrace these technologies," Price Floyd, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs, told the American Forces Press Service, the Defense Department's news service. "We need to use them because that's what the young people use these days. ...If we just stick to the traditional ways of communicating, we leave out a huge portion of society."

Unlike most other Web sites, the former Defense home page, DefenseLINK.mil, attracted more visitors over age 45 than under, according to Floyd. Attracting younger visitors -- while retaining the existing audience -- will be one of the Pentagon's key challenges.

Steve Radick, an associate at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton's social media/Government 2.0 practice, said the Pentagon's focus on engaging with 18 to 24 year olds likely is an extension of its recruiting goals.

"They want to tell the story and connect with these people so [young people] hear directly from the Pentagon and troops, rather than just the media or their parents," Radick said.

Steve Ressler, founder of Young Government Leaders and GovLoop, a social networking site for federal employees, said Defense is taking a big step in the right direction by offering visitors choices about how they connect. The new home page prominently displays links to subscribe to the Pentagon's RSS Feeds, podcasts and widgets. It also invites users to "connect with us" via the DoDLive Blog, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, UStream or YouTube.

Defense public affairs officials, who designed the site, modeled it after WhiteHouse.gov, which has avenues for members of the public to submit policy recommendations.

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