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State of the Web

June 2006

Using the web to accomplish HUD�s mission

11 years and growing

It�s hard to believe in that just over a decade, HUD�s websites have grown from just a handful of pages and a few hundred visitors each month, to hundreds of thousands of pages and over 1.5 million unique visitors each month.

Giving the public the best possible housing and community resources and online services is what we are all about and we are determined to continue to do that.

In the past year alone�.

You asked us to improve our search functionality, and we responded by deploying a new search appliance on our Internet and intranet websites.

Several of HUD�s Web Managers held leadership positions in several cross-agency task groups. HUD�s Web Managers are actively shaping federal web policies and procedures to ensure the U.S. Government�s websites are among the most customer-centered in the world.

We implemented a new online registration system. In the first six months, more than 5,000 people used the new tool to conveniently register for HUD-sponsored events. This new system allows HUD staff more time to manage their events, instead of performing tedious and error-prone data entry.

We responded to the Hurricane Katrina disaster by implementing policies to ensure that accurate content was posted to the web. One of HUD�s Web Managers proposed the common web naming convention �www.agencyname.gov/katrina�, which was adopted by all Federal Agencies. This helped to create a unified, consistent web response across U.S. Government. Every agency posted their hurricane-related information in a common folder, and they all linked to the same sources for the same information, reducing confusion during this stressful time.

HUD�s Web Managers provided plain language training to HUD staff, to teach them how to reduce �governmentese� in their writing, and make government documents and communications easier to understand. We trained employees to make better use of the web, so they are more efficient and can provide better service to our customers. We also re-wrote our most visited pages in plain language to improve customer service and understanding of HUD�s programs.

Our housing counseling lists have been automated and improved. We now offer online search capability, making it easier for citizens to locate and contact a HUD-approved housing counselor, and get answers to their housing questions.

Personas are characterizations of typical website visitors. This year, we created personas of primary audience types and interest areas, to help us get to know our audiences better. Personas help us focus on the tasks our visitors want to complete on our website, so we can present the information in ways that make sense to them. We used these personas to improve some of our most-visited pages.

We continue to review and update our entire website four times each year, to ensure that our site provides the most up-to-date information for our customers.

Downloads from HUDUser, the Department�s research and policy analysis library, have gone up almost twenty percent over the past year, to 7.2 million document downloads per year. More people are taking advantage of the web to download their information, saving them time, and saving the Department money, since we no longer have to print, store, and mail paper copies of these documents.

We produced 122 new webcasts this year. Thousands of visitors viewed our new and archived webcasts over the past year.

Our peers at other Federal agencies nominated HUD for seven awards at the 2005 Government Web Managers Workshop. HUD was recognized for, among other things, its web management organization, focus on local information, content certification and quality control processes.

In 2006, we conducted our 100th �Web Clinic for HUD Partners�, continuing our award-winning series of workshops about how to develop and maintain good public service websites. We�ve updated our clinic training presentation to stay current with new technologies.

We�ve streamlined our website by reducing the number of obsolete and duplicative pages. In the last year, we evaluated and removed approximately 50% of orphaned and obsolete content from our servers. We also updated the bookshelves on hud.gov. We eliminated bookshelves that were not being used, and reorganized the remaining bookshelves to make them more helpful to our visitors.

FHA.gov was launched this year, providing better consumer information on FHA programs and mortgage products.

Where to from here

We�ve made some great strides in the past 11 years, but we have so much more to do.

We are determined to stay at the forefront of web management in the U.S. Government, by continuing to lead the development of government-wide web policies and best practices. We will continue to mentor our fellow Web Managers, at all levels of government, in implementing those best practices.

We will be upgrading our Government Information Kiosks in the next year. The kiosks will be smaller, more reliable and easier to use, providing those citizens who don�t normally have easy access to the Internet with information from HUD and other government agencies.

We plan to update our forms library, HUDClips. The changes will make it easier to find HUD forms and handbooks, as well as bringing the HUDClips library into the hud.gov domain, per Office of Management and Budget (OMB) policy.

We also plan to upgrade our statistical software to give us improved website metrics. This new software will help us to determine whether or not website visitors are successful in finding the information for which they are searching. New metrics will help us improve our navigation and website organization, so our website visitors can complete their tasks and find the information they need.

In our never-ending quest to improve our web content, we continue to prune redundant and unnecessary information, making our websites more efficient. We rewrite pages as necessary, in plain language, so that the content can be easily understood.

Each year brings new technologies and new challenges for government websites. We are doing our best to bring you the information you want, in a way that makes sense to you, so you can accomplish your goals.

Content Archived: March 2, 2011

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