Boasting a mobile interface, distinct pages for each area of NOAA research and a redesigned toolbar, the site was constructed to be in every way, as the agency states, “At Your Service.”
NOAA hopes the changes, which went live Wednesday, will smoothen the browsing experience for its millions of annual visitors: According to the site, there were 81.2 million unique NOAA sessions in 2015, 72.6 percent of which were repeat visitors. Twenty-seven-point-five percent of that total were browsing from a tablet or mobile device — a factor which contributed to the new site’s minimalist layout.
In addition to displaying local weather information and news, the site offers access to new “Explainers,” crash courses in scientific topics like ocean currents and weather patterns designed to encourage learning and “wonder about our planet.” The presentations break down advanced topics into chapters and employ statistics to provide a 360 degree view of the material.
The site is also a cache of open data, offering a Global Data Explorer capable of simultaneously visualizing hundreds of sets of NOAA data from satellites, fisheries and research vessels around the world. Additionally, it offers suites of photo galleries from marine sanctuaries across the U.S., and information on endangered species and climate change trends.
“We’ve made it easier to explore the breadth of NOAA’s nine focus areas — and share the content you like to your social media feeds directly from our pages, too,” reads a post on the agency’s Facebook page. “This is just the first phase of a long-term effort to unify NOAA’s web properties with a more modern look and functionality.”