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Guidance for Data Users is the new platform to access data and digital content from the U.S. Census Bureau. The vision for data dissemination through is to improve the customer experience by making data available from one centralized place so that data users spend less time searching for data content and more time using it.

The vision for stems from overwhelming feedback that the Census Bureau has received to simplify the way customers get data. The Census Bureau continues to work on the customer experience so that it is not necessary for data users to know Census Bureau jargon or perform a complicated search to find the data that they need. In the past, prior to the inception of, the Census Bureau collected information, processed edits, reviewed the data, and disseminated it through multiple websites and applications. Data users had to know how to navigate these sites and applications in order to receive access to the end results.

With, we continue to collect, prepare, edit, and review data, but it is disseminated through the Census Bureau’s API on a single platform. This streamlined approach means that data users have access to the Census Bureau data and content in a single place.

The platform is built on the Census Data application programming interface, or API, which provides users with direct access to the data they want. As data users search, they will be making direct calls to the data, metadata, and geospatial services in a way that was not done through American FactFinder (AFF). This transition away from a table-based system, like AFF, towards a single-cell based system, creates new opportunities for data visualizations, maps, and other data displays that data users need.

As more data and content become available in the standardized format through the Census Data API and, subsequently,, data users will discover that they have more choices and greater flexibility. In addition, this transition is standardizing access to aggregate micro data sets, like the Public Use Micro data (PUMS) files, which are available through

The long-term goal is to integrate with the main Census webpage,, to create a seamless data user experience, where data are accessible using a single search bar. Until that time, will remain a stand-alone search platform while development continues in improving the site.

The Census Bureau is using an Agile development process that relies on incremental progress and user feedback, rather than the traditional “waterfall” methodology of gathering requirements first, and then building and releasing for review once the system is complete. This Agile approach allows for continuous improvement to the site every two months, as the cycle of building, reviewing, releasing, and incorporating feedback repeats. The end result will be a customer-driven experience. 


A critical part of the development process in improving has been employing data user feedback. When suggestions are emailed to, the Census Bureau takes the feedback, compiles and analyzes it, and sends it to the Value Team. The Value Team prioritizes the feedback, with strong consideration to the needs of data users and data programs. The Value Team then decides what features are to be implemented in future development cycles.

Please keep in mind all efforts are focused on migrating data that was previously available on American FactFinder to, and preparing for new data releases, such as the 2020 Census. Once these milestones are complete, we will continue to improve the site by adding functionality based on user feedback. As we commit resources to implement changes, it can take several development cycles to make the updates, test them, and push them to the public site.



Our Development Depends on Your Feedback

As we continue to develop new functionalities like search by address and advanced printing and download options, please let us know what features are important to you. 

Please send your questions or comments on, Census API, or Microdata Access to

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