State of the Web
The Annual Report from HUD's Departmental Web Team
On March 27, 2002 - unbeknownst to HUD - America Online (AOL) spotlighted
HUD's online "homes for sale," linking to the HUD page
from the AOL web site. On that day, more than 1.4 million page views
were recorded, compared to 833,000 the previous day. For the entire
month of March, 802,437 unique visitors came to HUD's web site.
That is the highest number of visitors in a one-month period since
the site debuted in 1995. But the number of visitors coming to HUD's
web site has been growing steadily, even before the AOL spotlight.
In January, 747,500 unique visitors used HUD's web site, besting
the 2001 monthly average of 624,000 by more than 100,000.
more than 60% of Americans now "online" in their homes
(according to the 2000 census) and even more gaining access through
work, schools, and libraries, the Internet has become a significant
force in the way Americans view and access their governments. The
Pew Internet and American Life Project recently issued a study,
entitled "The Rise of the E-Citizen," in which they report
that 68 million American adults have used government web sites,
up from 40 million in March 2000. 80% of those users have visited
a Federal web site; and 49% say the Internet has actually improved
the way they interact with the Federal Government. That's good news
for Federal managers.
remains a leader in the Federal Government in using the web to carry
out its mission. HUD's web site is one of the most highly regarded
web sites in the Federal Government. A summary of the awards and
recognition for HUD's five web products is appended to this report
. The key to HUD's success is simple: we know our audiences; and
we give them what they want and need, in ways that make sense to
HUD's Departmental Web Team has defined three strategic goals for
HUD's web products:
the web to connect people with government
One significant concern expressed in the recent Pew study is that
government agencies may be putting too much focus on making citizens
consumers - rather than owners - of government. At HUD, we already
are looking for new and better ways to use the web to create government
by the people - not just for the people.
Webcasts provide a great venue for letting the public interact
with Federal executives. Secretary Martinez was the first to volunteer
to do a Town Hall webcast, and we hope others will follow. The
Web Team also is investigating "virtual team" technology
that would permit groups to share files and discuss ideas and
concerns, all in "real time." Once it is available,
this technology can foster the creation of ad hoc groups of citizens,
partners, and HUD staff who can interact to address problems.
As Baby Boomers become retirees, it is easy to imagine that they
will turn to the web as a means for influencing government. We
want to offer meaningful ways to use that energy.
the web to connect people with people
One of the most powerful capabilities of the web is to help people
connect with one another, one-to-one. This summer, a "real-time
chat" pilot will put some of HUD's housing counseling grantees
online, providing one-on-one counseling to citizens, via the web.
Once established, real-time chat technology offers abundant opportunities:
We can put employee assistance and equal opportunity counseling
We can connect HUD's technical assistance providers with those
who need their support; and
We can supplement call centers with online capability.
- Keep doing what we're doing - only better
We're doing so many things right, at HUD; and we want to keep
it that way. But we don't want to rest on our laurels - new technical
capabilities and the ever-growing Internet-enabled audience present
constant challenges to improve, to experiment, and to create new
possibilities. On our agenda for the coming months are the following:
partnerships: The Web Team already has met with AOL to
plan additional "spotlights" which will showcase
HUD information through the AOL web site. Plans are in the
works to contact other major web indexers - Yahoo, Microsoft,
and others - to do similar marketing.
management system: A high priority for the Web Team is
identifying and implementing a robust content management technology
that will make creating, posting, tracking, and managing web
content easier and more efficient and help us implement more
effective management controls. The Team also is exploring
other technologies that could draw information from current
automated systems and array it in user-friendly ways, improving
the information and services we provide to citizens.
outreach: Web Managers throughout the Department are finding
new ways to promote HUD's web site to its intended audiences
and to gain audience feedback on HUD's site. The Office of
Housing is scheduling focus groups with industry partners;
and Field Web Managers are piggy-backing on regularly scheduled
events, such as the Buffalo Healthy Homes Conference and the
"Parade of Homes" in Indianapolis, to market the
information and services available on HUD's web site.
the "good stories:" The Web Team has forged
a strong partnership with the Office of Public Affairs to
explore new ways to use the web to promote the Secretary's
agenda and highlight HUD's "good stories."
web sites: The Departmental Web Team is working with the
Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to develop
its interagency web site. Web Team members represent HUD at
several other interagency "portal" efforts, as well.
The Departmental Web Managers communicate regularly with the
Web Managers at FirstGov, to ensure that HUD's information
is featured on that Federal Government "one stop."
from others: Two years ago, HUD started the Federal Web
Content Managers Forum as a vehicle for sharing ideas and
strategies about web management among Federal agencies. In
January, at HUD's suggestion, the Forum sponsored the first
Web Content Managers Seminar. More than 100 Web Content Managers
from 40 Federal agencies attended, discussing issues that
we all face. HUD's Web Managers will continue to lead the
effort to help government Web Managers learn from one another,
for the betterment of the information and services we provide
responsibility for content into HUD's organizational culture:
HUD's continued success with the web depends, to great extent,
on the evolving organizational culture. People come to web
sites for their content; and creating effective content for
HUD's web products is part of everyone's job - not just that
of Web Managers. HUD's web products belong to the entire Department,
and we need the help and support of the entire Department
to make them successful. HUD's Web Managers are putting procedures
and systems in place to encourage all HUD employees to engage
in content creation.
Status and Plans for HUD's 5 Web Products
is a summary of the current status of each of HUD's 5 award-winning
web products, major achievements of the past year, and specific
plans for the future.
HUD's "Homes and Communities" Web Site
for the Future
Private citizens are our biggest customer - 80% of those who come
to HUD's web site. When you translate that into monthly numbers,
that is some 600,000 citizens who visit our web site each month
- most looking for homebuying information. In March, HUD's "homes
for sale" page was viewed 231,000 times; and HUD's "homebuyer's
kit" was viewed 180,000 times.
Hud.gov remains a huge web site. Though recent efforts to consolidate
and edit the site have reduced its size, printed in hard copy
it still exceeds 1,000,000 pages.
Design improvements, implemented last year, have improved usability.
Monthly e-mails related to the web site have reduced from 20,000
per month, in 2000, to about 9,000 per month, at present.
50,763 links from outside web sites route customers to hud.gov,
according to AltaVista - one of the web's largest search engines.
To aid the growing Spanish-speaking web audience, HUD is translating
its web site into "international" Spanish. 240 pages
of the site are available in Spanish, with more translations underway.
local information: By late summer, HUD's web site will have
a new dimension. Citizens will be able to select information by
topic (what), by audience group (who), or by state (where). New
and improved local content - organized by state rather than by
HUD office - will supplement the generic content currently available
on HUD's web pages. This enhancement gives HUD's audiences something
that they really want: the local connection.
information will highlight what the states and cities are doing
with HUD money, helping citizens see how their federal tax dollars
turn into local opportunities. Web Coordinators and Program Web
Contacts in each of HUD's local offices, working with the Field
Web Managers, are playing a big role in this major effort to restructure
the information on HUD's web site.
More webcasts: The Web Team is working with both Headquarters
and Field managers to identify new opportunities to use webcasting,
to inform and teach citizens and our business partners how to
take advantage of government programs. The Office of Housing is
in the preliminary stages of developing a webcast on "how
to buy a home," and the Field Web Managers are considering
ideas for webcasting training sessions on such topics as renewing
Section 8 contracts.
Improved "search" function: Responding to one of
the most common complaints about HUD's web site, the Web Team
is investigating new search capabilities that will yield more
productive results to users' queries.
HUD's Intranet: Hud@work
Plans for the Future
- In September 2001, we unveiled a new, state-of-the-art intranet
web site, re-christened "hud@work." Improved technology
permits HUD employees to customize their hud@work pages, making
it easier to get to the information and systems they need to do
- Webcasts have become a popular way to provide training and information
to HUD employees. Statistics show that nearly 50% of all webcast
views come from within HUD.
- Regional pages: In the Field, new "regional"
hud@work pages will replace the existing 81 pages, making information
more concise and current.
- Employee information: A recent survey of HUD employees
revealed that what they want most on the intranet is good employee
information on subjects like jobs, benefits, and training opportunities.
The Office of Administration is hard at work, addressing those
desires. New web pages are being developed for the Administrative
Services Centers and for the HUD Training Academy, among other
HUD Answer Machines
- HUD's Answer Machines provide free access to the Internet for
an average 1,300 citizens, each month. To our knowledge, HUD is
the only Federal agency providing free Internet access to the
public, from each of its offices. The Answer Machines are just
one way HUD is helping bridge the "digital divide."
- Statistics show that Answer Machines are best used in the Storefront
Offices, where they are a prominent part of the reception areas.
In March 2002, 45 people used the Answer Machines in the Tucson
Storefront; 71 people used the Answer Machines in the Atlanta
Storefront; and 212 people used the Answer Machines in the Washington
for the Future
- A recent analysis of the Answer Machines conducted by the Field
Web Managers revealed some issues about placement that must be
addressed; but in general, the Answer Machines present a relatively
low-cost public service that we want to promote. The Web Team
will be working with Public Affairs to develop some strategies
for marketing this public resource.
- 106 touch-screen kiosks installed in public places throughout
the country offer basic information about HUD programs and services.
- 27,000 citizens use the kiosks each month - more than 300,000
each year - to find homes for sale, search for subsidized apartments,
and learn about FHA mortgage programs.
- In interviews with kiosk users, 55% report that they will use
the information they found.
- Last year, HUD started the Interagency Kiosk Forum to exchange
lessons learned and best practices in managing Federal kiosks
and to explore joint efforts to share content on kiosks. 50 representatives
of 30 Federal agencies participate in the Forum.
for the Future
- At the request of the Deputy Secretary, a comprehensive review
of the kiosk program is underway. Results will determine the future
direction of HUD's kiosk program.
Web Clinics for HUD Partners
- HUD's Web Clinics continue to be an unqualified success. In
the past 2 years, HUD's Departmental Web Team has conducted 52
Web Clinics reaching 1,350 participants, representing 1,000 HUD
partner organizations - non-profits, community-based groups, public
housing agencies, state and local governments, and faith-based
groups. 99% of the evaluations of the Clinics give them an enthusiastic
- In addition to regularly scheduled clinics, the Web Team holds
special clinics requested by HUD managers. In the past year, the
Team taught clinics for Colonias partners and for Housing's Homeownership
- Clinic alumni have brought the Team even more business. Recent
Clinics were conducted for the Public Housing Agency Directors
Association (PHADA) Executive Conference and the Tennessee Association
of Housing and Redevelopment Authorities.
- The Web Clinics do more than teach HUD Partners how to create
good public service web sites. They enhance good will between
HUD and its partners. One satisfied Web Clinic alumnus offered
web clinic workshop was the most outstanding one-day class I
have ever had. I mean ever!
that HUD sent us two senior
web staffers sent a powerful message about Secretary Martinez'
commitment to HUD's partners and to our success." - Rev.
Ed Seeger, Executive Director, Corpus Christi Metro Ministries
for the Future
- Monthly Clinics are scheduled through FY 03; and the Web Team
is talking with several managers about offering additional Clinics
to target populations, such as faith-based organizations.
- A new, improved version of HUD's Web Clinic Wizard - an easy-to-use
software designed as a companion to the Clinics and offered to
all participants for free - will be issued by early summer.
Several new web management policies and procedures improved HUD's
management controls and enhanced the quality of HUD's web products.
Privacy and accessibility:
Following guidance from OMB, HUD implemented new laws and regulations
relating to privacy and accommodations for people with disabilities.
HUD's web page templates ensure that people with disabilities
have access to the same information as everyone else. The templates
also ensure that the public can view the Department's privacy
policy, from any page.
Content certification process: The Deputy Secretary imposed
new requirements for quarterly certification that Internet web
content is both current and accurate. As a result, more than 1,900
corrections and updates were made to Field Office pages; and literally
thousands of changes were made to Headquarters pages, in the very
first round. This certification process will help the Department
meet new requirements imposed by OMB relating to the quality and
integrity of information.
Content clearance process: The Deputy Secretary imposed
another new management control to ensure that web content is consistent
with the Secretary's goals and objectives. All content of a policy
nature must be cleared with Public Affairs, prior to posting.
Kiosk performance standards:
New performance standards were defined to ensure that HUD kiosks
are placed at the most advantageous locations. As a result of
these standards, 15 kiosks either have been, or are in the process
of being, moved to locations where they can be more successful.
Departmental management processes: For the first time,
specific guidance relating to web management activities was incorporated
into the Department's Management Planning process. In addition,
web activities are being reviewed in the Quality Management Review
Field Web Managers: Perhaps the most significant improvement
in web management this year was hiring new full-time Field Web
Managers in each of the Regions. The Field Web Managers bring
stability and focus to developing high quality local content for
HUD's web products. They are building on work of the many volunteer
Web Managers, who contributed so much over the past 6 years.
has been a productive year, and HUD can be proud. Next year will
be even better.
Content Archived: March 2, 2011