Portfolio: CDC Chemical Emergency Website Redesign

CLIENT  //  CDC – National Center for Environmental Health Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry img - external link

SOLUTION  //  CDC Chemical Emergency Website Redesign img - external link

AGENCY  //  PwC Digital img - external link


icons - cdc chem site


  • Consulted with the CDC National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) executive team on strategy and requirements
  • Utilized the Human-Centered Design approach to better understand end users’ goals, needs, problems, and current technology usage to inform the strategy
  • Redesigned the CDC Chemical Emergency site to better engage target audiences


The CDC wanted to revitalize the CDC Chemical Emergency Website in order to enable target audiences to quickly and easily find the information they need before, during or after a chemical emergency when they visit the site. The main issues were the fact that most target audiences started their search on Google (instead of the CDC Chemical Emergencies site) and then quickly left the CDC site once they landed on it from Google resulting in an 80% average bounce rate.

User Research Phase

We discussed the target audiences with NCEH executives and narrowed it down to A) Concerned Public, B) Public Health Professionals, and C) Healthcare Providers. We then conducted 10 interviews with users from the targeted audience segments. From the feedback, we analyzed and documented the user experiences navigating the current site.

img - cdc feedback

We highlighted specific issues on each of the main pages on the current CDC Chemical Emergency website in regards to each target audience.

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Our efforts to redesign the experience for the Chemical Emergency website were informed by an understanding of pathways to and behavior on the current site. We utilized Adobe Analytics data to:

  • Analyze the navigational pathways to the site
  • Consider where users spend time on the site
  • Discover popular site content
  • Identify opportunities to enhance the user experience
  • Create meaningful ways to restructure content on the site to better serve target audiences

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Design Phase

Once we finished the user research of the CDC Chemical Emergency website, I was able to utilize the project goals, user interviews, and website analytics to develop the Design Principles as well as the following strategic recommendations:

  • img - cdc design principlesClear labeling and statements of purpose – The purpose of the site and each piece of site content must be made clear and intelligible to site users.
  • Site personalization – Content must be broken up by target audience segment so that site users can quickly see what information is aimed at them.
  • Response Phase sorting – Content will be further subjected to response phase sorting so that it is clear what content is useful during an emergency and what is not.

The new information architecture (IA) makes dramatic improvements to the website’s purpose, as well as easier access to important information, and personalization for each of the primary audiences.

img - cdc information architecture

The design artifacts helped formed the design foundation for creating the new user experience for the CDC Chemical Emergency website. Please note that the NCEH requested that we utilize existing website templates to ensure that the content team could leverage these designs more quickly without additional development work. With this in mind, I removed the secondary navigation on the left because the data showed that it’s rarely used and takes up valuable space, which allowed me to provide a richer user experience.

Executive Presentation

We presented our research findings, recommendations, and website design wireframes to the NCEH executives who provided extraordinary praise. While our strategy was constrained to the parameters of the project, we went above and beyond our duties to provide additional recommendations that would help the NCEH to expand and promote the Chemical Emergencies website once they had completed the redesign.

img - cdc other strategies

We also provided a wireframe design of an interactive Chemical Incident map that would provide another way for target audiences to engage with CDC’s powerful data on chemical emergencies.




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