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What's New on Business.gov

By JamieD
Published: February 26, 2010

At Business.gov, we are constantly evolving our functionality and features to make the user experience more productive and enjoyable. In the interest of transparency and open government, we'd like to share several new updates to the site.

Licenses & Permits Tool Crowdsourcing

Business.gov's Licenses & Permits tool searches Federal, state, and local governments for permits, licenses, and registrations that apply to your business based on your location and business type. In the past, Business.go;s editorial team decided which business types would be researched and listed in the tool. To further improve usability, we recently equipped the Licenses and Permits tool with crowdsourcing capabilities that enable small business owners to influence the decision making.

You may be thinking, 'Great! But what is crowdsourcing and what does that mean for me?' In this case, crowdsourcing is a controlled collaboration between the Business.gov team and our users. This collaboration enables small business owners to have a say in the development of this tool by suggesting new business types. Our intent is to gain a better understanding of what data our users are looking for, and your participation will make this tool as effective as possible.

To find appropriate search results for your business, the Licenses & Permits Tool asks for your zip code and business type. If you ca-t find your business type in the current list, the new crowdsourcing feature allows you to submit a recommendation to our editorial team. Simply click Did-t See Your Business Type? beneath the Licenses & Permits search box and you'll have the opportunity to vote on recently submitted business types, or submit your own idea. Be sure to check what others have suggested before duplicating an idea.

Our editorial team will take your suggestions and expand the Licenses & Permits tool data to include the most requested business types. Once we decide to add a new business type, we'll close the voting on that idea and inform users that it will soon be added to the tool.

Lithium 9

Lithium, the platform on which the Business.gov Community is run, was recently updated to version 9 to optimize user experience. Community members should find that these improvements make using the Community faster and easier than before. Recent enhancements include:

New Cosmetic Features. The look of the Community has been streamlined to improve the user interface. It has improved consistency of font sizes and colors throughout the Community, the consistency of breadcrumbs, and made better use of horizontal space. This update also removed features that were not useful to users such as the Icon Legend.

Improved Search Results page. The new search capabilities make searches more effective and efficient. The search box now includes suggestions of forums, ideas and articles that pertain to your search terms. Using the search terms you enter, search results now use built-in filtering for location, author, date and board, provide cleaner results with clear titles, authors, content and tags, and give users the option to sort results.

Better Organization. Certain areas of the Community, such as the My Settings better utilize vertical and horizontal space to make the pages more intuitive. For example, the new My Settings page includes a tabbed design with relevant sub-tabs. All categories' Personal Profile, Preferences, Avatars, Tagging, Marcos, and Subscriptions & Bookmarks' now have their own tabs with relevant information located within these tabs.

Cleaner Rich Text Editor. Improvements to the rich text editor simplify the process of replying to messages and adding comments. New HTML and Preview tabs allow users to easily switch between views. Other small adjustments were made to make better use of all available space.

New Rank Notifications. Private messages are now sent to congratulate users when they reach a new rank. This function acknowledges members who contribute quality information to the site and reminds members that the more they contribute, the higher their rank will be.

New Notification of RSS Feeds. The notification system for RSS feeds has been updated as well. Some members noted that their settings were altered in the update, so be sure to check that your RSS feeds are functioning as they were before. Please see the Bookmarks, Subscriptions, and RSS Help page for details on reestablishing your settings.

The Business.gov team strives to continuously improve the services we provide to the small business community. As always, your feedback is extremely valuable in judging our success. We hope yo'll let us know what you think of these features and how all the changes have affected your experience with the community!

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