On Saturday, after months of work, we quietly launched this new version of MuckRock — our biggest update since the site launched over four and a half years ago.
Our primary goal was to give users an easier way to file, track and share their requests, particularly while they’re on the go. We’ve cut down the filing process from four pages to two, and we made the site responsive, so that whether you’re on your laptop, desktop, tablet, or phone, MuckRock will look and feel natural.
We’ve also made it easier to see just how simple MuckRock makes filing a public records request. Getting started no longer requires an account (try it out), and we’re rolling out a new “cloning” feature that helps refile interesting requests with a different agency - so if you like the FOIA work you see someone doing, you can bring it your neighborhood.
The new sidebar on the right makes it easy to file a request, ask for help, and focus on updates that need your attention. Almost every request list view now offers a way to filter in a variety of ways, so you can see, for example, a list of every successful request to the National Security Agency.
Request pages were also re-thought, with indentation and color coding showing incoming versus outgoing communications. We’ve also made it easier to get a link to an individual communication (click the ∞ symbol) and to share requests on social media.
Overall, we’ve made hundreds of changes to improve and streamline the user experience, and we’re now set up to roll out more exciting new features in the months to come.
With the new design, we’ll also be adjusting our pricing for the first time since we began: Community accounts will stay at $20, but for four requests instead of five. Professional Accounts will stay the same, just $40 a month to file up to 20 requests.
We owe a huge debt of thanks to dozens of people for making this project possible.
Chief among them is Sue Gardner, former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. Her selection of MuckRock as the inaugural Knight Foundation Innovation Grant award winner directly lead to so much of our growth over the past year, including the funding to do this redesign.
We are also deeply grateful to the Knight Foundation for their support through this award and in many other ways.
The generous support of David Putney was also absolutely critical to the site we have today: He selflessly gave his time and immeasurable talent, and the redesign would not have been possible without him.
We’re also extremely grateful to all of those who volunteered as early testers, helping us catch bugs, refine workflows and build a better experience for everyone.
This project is primarily the handiwork of Allan Lasser, MuckRock’s developer. He spent the past four months learning new technologies, squashing old bugs, and becoming an invaluable part of the team. He worked closely with MuckRock co-founder Mitchell Kotler, whose hard work ensured a smooth switchover and whose optimizations have not only made the site look much better, but work much faster and more reliably.
And finally, but most importantly, I’m humbled by the amazing support and generosity of MuckRock’s users. Every day, I’m inspired by our users’ creative, passionate, and meaningful public records work, and we hope that this new site will be a proper showcase for it. Thank you.
If you have any bug reports, questions, concerns, or suggestions, please let us know at info@MuckRock.com. I can’t wait to see what you do next with the tools we’ve built.
Image via Library of Congress