State of the Web at HUD

July 2004

Annual Report on Web Management at HUD From HUD's Departmental Web Team

One million website visitors in a month�2.9 million visitors in 3 months�9.5 million individual visitors in a year. That's big news for HUD!

In February 2004, HUD's website hit a major milestone - for the first time in its 9-year history, HUD's Homes and Communities website attracted more than 1 million visitors in a single month. In fact, during the shortest month of the year, we recorded 1,041,372 individual visitors to HUD's website. In the period January - March 2004, Nielson/Netratings estimates that 2.9 million individual visitors viewed HUD's website. Over the past year, HUD's website has served 9.5 million people, at an average per visitor cost that's less than a postage stamp.

Who are those people and what are they seeking?

Statistics show that about 93% of them are private citizens, some who visit the website more than once. Business partners account for about 7% of our web traffic (70,000 individual visitors per month). Nearly 38% of our web audience is African-American and Hispanic, a significantly higher percentage of minorities than any other federal agency. Most of our web audience is looking for information on buying a home. Consistently, 6 of the 10 most accessed pages on the site each month are about homeownership. Clearly, HUD's website is a powerful asset in achieving the Department's strategic goals and mission.

This report summarizes some of the highlights of the past year and plans for the next year.


  • HUD Kiosks reach low-income families that don't have access to the Internet. In the past year, more than 330,000 people - predominantly low-moderate income families without Internet access - used HUD's 106 web-based kiosks to find out how to buy a home, search for affordable housing, and learn about fair housing. But the real news is that HUD's kiosks now offer citizens even more government information. In January 2004, HUD began a pilot with the Department of Treasury, Bureau of the Public Debt, to see if citizens would value broader content on the kiosks. In addition to HUD's information, kiosks now tell citizens how to buy U.S. Savings Bonds, perhaps as a way to save for that downpayment on a first home. The pilot was a success; and in March, we convened a meeting of representatives from 16 federal agencies to begin a Governmentwide Kiosk Project. Kiosks are delivering citizen-friendly web content to a population often left behind.
  • HUD's pioneering Spanish language website is launched. was officially launched June 2003 at the LULAC conference in Orlando. Today, has more than 7,000 pages of information on homeownership, rental assistance, and local resources. In one short year, has more than quadrupled in size. HUD is viewed as the leader in the Federal government in reaching out to our Spanish-speaking audience. Already, about 25% of the estimated 100,000 Hispanic families that visit HUD's websites choose An aggressive marketing and outreach program got the word out. Booths and demonstrations at the National Council of La Raza Conference in Austin, Texas; the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Annual Conference in Chicago; the Latino Book and Family Festival in Cicero, Illinois; the MAFO-National Partnership of Farmworkers Organization Conference in San Antonio; and the HUD Homeless Conference in San Juan exposed a whole new audience to the information and services available from HUD. Regional Public Affairs Officers used new press kits to help promote the site, and ads appeared on radio and television and in print publications. Everything from HUD stationary to news releases carries the address of HUD's newest website.
  • Webcasts grow in popularity.
    Webcasts have been great tools for training HUD partners for a number of years. But this year, webcasts became a centerpiece in our efforts to inform citizens. During Homeownership Month, we introduced our new webcast on "How to buy a home," the most recent in our series of webcasts for consumers on such topics as how to avoid predatory lending, how to buy a HUD home, and how to keep your home safe and healthy. All of these videos are available in Spanish, as well as English. Region 8 became the first in the Field to start offering local public service announcements on HUD's website. And Public Affairs created a 7-minute "History of HUD" video that tells the story of our Department and how it impacts America. Webcasts of training sessions and conferences - like the Colonias/Migrant Farmworker Practitioners Conference - continue to be popular among HUD's partners, particularly for those who can't attend in person.
  • Slide shows spotlight HUD's impact on America's communities.
    To answer that question: "What does HUD do for me," Regional Web Managers have been working with Field Office Directors to create "slide shows," featured on the front of each of the state pages. We're using pictures to tell the good stories about the ways HUD funds improve communities. From "before" and "after" photos of homes that have been rehabbed to photos showing how CDBG funds help turn aging buildings into new businesses to photos of young people participating in after-school programs, these slide shows tell HUD's story.
  • Web content gets a clean up:
    HUD's web managers are zeroing in on web content, implementing processes to improve overall quality, clean out outdated information, and eliminate bad links. Our goal is to make our content as easy as possible for our primary audience - citizens - to use.

  • Web Managers learn how to create better web content from international expert.
    Gerry McGovern, international expert on web content and design, delivered a one-day training session for HUD's web managers, emphasizing important concepts such as focus on the content that most visitors want and keep content short and simple. We're learning how to write, edit, and organize our content better to be more effective.
  • Quality Control process uses peer reviews to improve content.
    A new Content Quality Control (QC) process already has helped us weed out old, outdated content and vastly improve pages with content "sins," such as unexplained acronyms, complicated wording, and mixed audiences. Web Managers use a scoring system based on HUD's web content standards. QC reviews will cover 400 randomly selected web pages every year.
  • "Spring Cleaning" campaign reduces bad links and obsolete pages.
    In May 2004, Web Managers used new management reports to tackle bad links and obsolete pages on HUD's website. In a 2-week period, we removed 5,500 pages; and we've reduced the number of bad internal links (those going from one page on our site to another) by 79%.
  • Quarterly certifications result in an estimated 1,200 corrections and updates every 3 months.
    HUD's 3-year-old quarterly certification process continues to produce excellent results in identifying and correcting errors, outdated content, and other problems on the website.
  • hud@work gets overhauled.
    For the past year, Web Managers have gathered employee input through an online survey (1,400 responses), more than 35 focus groups, and usability tests to help us redesign HUD's intranet. We'll be testing the draft design with employees before we introduce the new intranet website later this year. Already, we've created a section for new employees; and we're working on online customer service guides for field offices. We're determined to get this important tool for managers and employees right.
  • First bi-lingual Web Clinics for HUD Partners target Spanish-speaking audience.
    HUD's homeless conference in San Juan in April 2004 presented a great opportunity to reach out to HUD partners in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to help them build good public service websites. At the suggestion of HUD's San Juan Office, HUD's Web Managers held a clinic attended by 60 partners in San Juan and 40 partners on St. Thomas - including 20 who attended via videoconference from St. Croix University of the Virgin Islands. These bi-lingual clinics were a big hit, and more are planned in FY05.
  • HUD Web Managers lead effort to develop web content standards for all federal public websites.
    HUD's Departmental Web Team members played key roles in crafting 43 recommendations to OMB for policies and guidelines for all federal public websites. Candi Harrison, Departmental Web Manager for Field Operations, co-chairs the Web Content Standards Working Group, which is part of the Interagency Committee on Government Information (ICGI) that was established by the E-Government Act of 2002 to recommend policies for federal websites. Sam Gallagher, Departmental Web Manager for Headquarters Operations and Working Group member, is helping build a website "toolkit" that will offer implementation guidance for federal web content managers. Helen Savoye Minor, Deputy Web Manager, serves as one of the advisors to the Working Group. OMB will issue official web content policies to Agency Heads by December 31, 2004. These proposed policies and guidelines are a significant step toward ensuring that all federal public websites are as citizen-focused and audience-friendly as possible. The full ICGI report is available at


With all our successes, many challenges remain. Four major initiatives will drive the web management agenda for the next several months:

  1. Implementing the forthcoming OMB policies for federal public websites;
  2. Developing HUD's web management organization and preparing for succession;
  3. Directing the Governmentwide Kiosk Project; and
  4. Enhancing the web content of all our websites.

  • Implementing OMB policies for federal public websites.
    Though HUD sets the standard for many of the ICGI recommendations on web content submitted to OMB, others will require new efforts. And since all of the recommendations are based on laws, requirements, and best practices, we're not waiting to be told to implement them.

  • Assess customer satisfaction:
    This fall, HUD will begin using the American Customer Satisfaction Inventory (ASCI) to survey website visitors and gauge their satisfaction with and Pop-up survey forms will gather data to tell us not only how our audiences view the website, but also how we compare to the 23 other federal agencies using the ACSI. We'll use these results to improve our content and design.
  • Establish web records management procedures:
    What is a "web record?" Is every web page a record? Do we have to keep copies of every web page we create? For how long? Establishing web records policies and procedures has been a huge problem for all federal agencies, for years. The National Archives and Records Administration will issue new policies and procedures for web records this year; and web managers throughout the Department will be working with the Office of Administration to develop reasonable web records policies for HUD. At the top of our list of planned improvements is a way to archive important historical web documents, so that researchers, students, and others can find them in the future.
  • Use "plain language:"
    Simple word choices can make a huge difference in conveying information or directions. We've engaged a well-known plain language expert to teach HUD's web managers and staff tricks of the trade in communicating with the public, both citizens and partners.
  • Use domains the public can trust:
    The ICGI has recommended that all federal public websites use .gov, .mil, or domains, so that citizens can be sure that this is official government information. Usability testing confirms that the public does view these domains as important indicators that information can be trusted. Though HUD has a long-standing policy that all official web content is at, there are a few sections that are outside the domain. This year, we'll be working with program managers to bring those web pages into HUD's .gov domain.
  • Publish an inventory of information to be posted in the future:
    The E-Government Act of 2002 requires every federal agency to publish a schedule for posting additional commonly sought information on the web, by December 31, 2004. Though HUD's websites already offers most information commonly requested under the Freedom of Information Act and through email and telephone contacts, we'll be talking with managers and staff throughout the Department to make sure we identify content our customers want and need and plan for its publication.

  • Developing HUD's web management organization and preparing for succession.
    Like all organizations, HUD's web management organization experiences turnover. So the Departmental Web Team has developed a strategic plan for developing HUD's web management organization. It includes training courses, on-the-job training options such as "shadowing" and short details, and rotating interns through web duties. We've already begun to incorporate skills training into regular Web Manager meetings, including training on web content by Gerry McGovern and training on using HUD's web content standards to do Quality Control reviews. More training is planned. In addition, we'll be encouraging Web Managers to teach "writing for the web" training sessions for their Web Coordinators and other staff who routinely contribute to HUD's websites; and we hope to start webcasting web-related courses for HUD employees, such as using "plain language."
  • Directing the Governmentwide Kiosk Project.
    HUD is seeking federal partners to turn HUD's successful kiosk program into a Governmentwide Kiosk Program. There's been a good deal of interest; and at present, 6 federal agencies are considering joining the effort. Partners will sign agreements for an initial 1-year period. During that time, a new Kiosk Board will be formed to develop long-term plans for using kiosks to reach underserved populations, sharing the costs of the program. We already know this program works. If we can broaden it to give citizens even more information about government services that can help them, it can be a real "e-government" success story.
  • Enhancing our web content.
    It all comes down to this: if your content isn't good, your website isn't good. So we will continue our efforts to write and organize HUD's web content more effectively, to keep it current and accurate, and to use customer feedback to make it more responsive.

  • We'll expand the translations available on, using customer-generated data to set priorities.
  • We'll complete our revamping of hud@work and continue to seek feedback from employees on how to make it better.
  • We'll push the envelope on webcasts, working with program offices to develop "how to" webcasts similar to the "How to Buy A Home" video that was completed this year.
  • We'll make sure our consumer information videos are available to our Spanish-speaking audience, as well as the English-speaking audience.
  • We're revising the state page templates, using customer feedback to make them easier to use.
  • We'll continue to teach Web Clinics for HUD Partners, helping them create websites with local information and services, to which we can link.
  • We'll begin a requirements analysis toward developing an automated content management system that will help us make content creation and management even more effective.
  • We'll use our web analysis tools (statistics, broken link reports, usability data, and customer satisfaction survey) and our certification and Quality Control processes to fine-tune our web content.

Happy Birthday,!

Next March, HUD's website will be 10 years old; and we plan to celebrate. There's good reason to look back - and ahead - with pride. Creating and managing effective public service web products is something HUD has done very well. But don't take our word for it. Here's an email we received from Rachel McAlpine, author of Web Word Wizardry and well-known international web content consultant:

"The material (about web management) on your website is terrific. May I please use (it) as a model in my public workshops? It shows a commitment and breadth of vision that puts most government sites to shame."

Content Archived: March 2, 2011