As promised in the last post, yesterday we rolled out a new NASA Television schedule page. This page shows NASA’s three television channels listed much like you’d see listings in your local newspaper with blocks of time indicating which program is on which channel. We hope this small improvement makes the online program schedule easier to read.
This change also combines program information into one place instead of the old model of three different schedules depending upon whether something was regularly scheduled, a live event, or a mission event. Now the schedules for all three channels are listed on one page. Additionally, when a user hovers their mouse over the program title, they see a small window open that has either a description of the program or a link for more information. This was added in response to user feedback that more information was sometimes necessary, especially on cryptically named television programs.
Listings of upcoming programs, events and features on NASA TV’s Public, Education and Media channels now can be accessed easily in the NASA TV section.
Stay tuned for more changes coming soon to NASA.gov.
You might have noticed a condensed homepage that launched earlier today. In response to your feedback on the old ‘NASA TV & Video’ box, we’re trying a new approach to surface different types of multimedia without burying some content in “hidden” tabs.
(Image Right: The Old “NASA TV & Video” Box)
Combining the NASA TV channels, on-demand video, interactive features and podcasts & vodcasts into a single box allowed us to shrink the page and reduce a little “clutter.” As a result, we shrunk the blogs box to half its size, allowing us to showcase only the most recent blog posts.
We’ve also removed the polls and quizzes box from the homepage, since our stats showed only a small percentage of our users were interacting with it. We’ll continue to engage users with polls and quizzes elsewhere on the site, but we want to focus the homepage on the most useful information for our visitors.
Other things that have been on our to-do list for a while include the cleaning up of links on the homepage in the right column. By combining some similar links (like NASA Directorates and Mission Support Offices), and eliminating redundant links, we were able to tighten up that right column. We hope this will help streamline items.
(Image Left: The New “NASA Multimedia” Box)
This is all part of an effort to slim down our addiction to links all over the homepage, since our audience has consistently asked us to eliminate clutter. This change has already helped us eliminate about 25 links, and we’ll keep chopping it down.
There are more changes still to come. For example, before the new year, we’ll being rolling out a new schedule for NASA TV that works more like the TV channel listings you’ve seen on the big Internet portals.
As our turkey comas wear off from Thanksgiving and the chilled air of December settles in, a New Year looms around the corner. 2009 held many large events for NASA.gov. Almost 392,000 people watched the LCROSS impact video live on NASA.gov with 5.4 million visitors simultaneously looking at the NASA.gov Web site, the second-largest online event in our history. We also set a new bandwidth record during the LCROSS impact with data transfers of over 75.5 gigabits per second spread among live video and the Web site. All-told during the LCROSS impact event, we moved a total amount of data equal to over 85 terabytes or about the equivalent of 127,327 CD’s.
NASA.gov also set milestones with the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission during STS-125. In addition to all the normal online activities that any shuttle mission usually garners, astronaut Mike Massimino captivated space enthusiasts around the world via Twitter by sending the first tweet from space. His Earth-shattering tweets also managed to amass @Astro_Mike over a million followers on Twitter, rivaling the likes of Ashton Kutcher. Additionally, the launch of STS-125 also resulted in our fourth-largest online event in NASA.gov history.
NASA delved deeper into our enthusiastic group of followers on Twitter by hosting ‘Tweetups‘ where Twitter users learn about our programs and speak with astronauts. Thus far, Tweetups have been held at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Demand for attending the Tweetup to learn about STS-129 and view the launch of the Space Shuttle from Florida culminated with the filling of our 100 registration slots, plus all the spaces on our wait-list, in less than twenty minutes.
Other ground was broken in NASA’s online communications with this fall’s Operation Ice Bridge campaign, which featured an unprecedented level of near-real time coverage across cyberspace with tweets on Twitter, Webisodes on YouTube, photos on Flickr, and a blog on NASA Blogs. This precedent-setting social media coverage exceeded all expectations and is something that we hope to repeat in the years ahead.
Another large online event for NASA.gov was the launch of the Ares I-X Development Test flight. While lasting just a few minutes, the intrigue of the new rocket and it’s successful test launch showed sustained interest in the days leading up to the launch, even after the first launch attempt was scrubbed.
Now that we’ve talked about some of our online highlights from 2009, what other NASA events interested you from throughout the year?