Congratulations to NASA’s Open Government Team – Nick, Ali, Chris, and a few others I’m sure I’m forgetting – on getting their new website launched – http://open.nasa.gov. The site uses the open source content management system WordPress1 to publish and share success stories as well as projects that promote government transparency and collaboration.
I have intimate knowledge of everything the team went through to get this site launched. And as it is with anything having to do with the inner workings of the federal government, this project met its fair share of bureaucracy, repetitive debate, and internal politics. I’m pretty sure they had to jump through a ring of fire, solve the debt crisis, and return the ring to Mordor before getting this site released to the public.2
But as much as I could praise their perserverance in seeing the project through to the finish line3, I’d much rather highlight and applaud the site’s visual and information design. As a admirer and practitioner of minimalist web design, I believe that interface design should get out of the way and let content shine through. Simply put, the best web design lets the content speak for itself. NASA possesses visual imagery that makes up some of the most compelling content anyone has ever seen. I’m happy to see that open.nasa.gov was designed and developed in a way that I notice the site titles, logos, and navigation only as the functional elements that they are; and not the design and branding elements that they are often deployed as.
I wish I could say the same of every NASA web site.4