We had two different assignments at the USHR, each which resulted in delivering recommendations for standards based on evaluation projects to measure Web site performance against best practices.
House Administration Committee
The Democratic staff of the Committee of House Administration in the U.S. House of Representatives hired us to help lawmakers strengthen their online communications. Independent critiques of the websites had shown lawmakers there was room for improvement, but there was no strategic plan to do so.
We delivered custom Web scorecards for each lawmaker’s site. Each scorecard made recommendations for specific priority improvements on their sites.
After a pilot effort with key offices to confirm our approach, we completed over 200 confidential Web site evaluations against a custom scorecard to measure adherence to rules of the USHR, compliance with Section 508 guidelines for accessibility, content and usability.
We briefed the Chiefs of Staff, Press Secretaries and Webmasters on the aggregate results to give everyone in the Democratic Caucus with a means of judging their score against their peers. The Committee on House Administration issued the standards document to Democratic staff, based on this work, which set guidelines for Web performance for the first time. We also were able to share best practices across the House to encourage staff to reuse and recycle ideas that worked.
At the end of the project we delivered a comprehensive report analyzing the results and making recommendations for future management of House Web sites.
Chief Administrative Officer
With the Chief Administrative Officer, we served as an enterprise content management consultant. We responded to an RFP for the opportunity and joined the CAO Web Staff as a consultant. This team was in charge of a variety of web products including house.gov, the USHR Intranet called HouseNet and (at the time) about one-third of all websites for members of the House of Representatives.
Here we began a series of peer reviews for the professional developers on staff to check each others work, where participants provided valuable feedback about strengths and weaknesses to the team at-large.
We also surveyed the developers to discover their attitudes about which standards for Web sites were the most important. Finally, we independently evaluated select sites against the best-practice standards. By comparing the results of the survey – their attitudes – against the practices showcased in the sites themselves – their behaviors – we were able to deliver recommendations on a standards program that met the needs of this audience.
Our comprehensive report on the project detailed both our observations and ideas for the future to leverage improvements in Web management practices.
The Intranet was also examined against heuristic best practices. They had an initial blueprint which I examined. In addition, my content audit and analysis resulted in recommendations for improving the information architecture.
In this assignment we provided the CAO with several key deliverables including:
- A management review of CAO Web work on lawmaker sites with recommended publishing standards
- An evaluation of their blueprint and information architecture for the House Intranet, named HouseNet
- A framework for model key performance indicators reports on the House.gov and HouseNet domains
- The first edition of the content publishing guidelines for the House Intranet