Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What’s So Important About a URL?

HUD is championing a new URL: fha.gov. It’s not a new website. It’s really a shortcut into a particular section of the existing HUD website. So the question is: why did HUD executives decide to create this URL? Does this unique URL help the public get to what they want? Or is it just one more name to remember in the jungle of government websites?

If web managers want to control proliferation of websites and URLs, then we’ve got to understand the causes. So why do executives like to promote these “designer” URLs?

  • Is it a marketing strategy? Do they think it’s easier for the public to have a separate URL for each product they want to promote?
  • Did one part of the agency want to distinguish its own work from the work of other parts of the agency?
  • Did it happen because the existing website has grown so large that important content is getting lost? Have executives lost confidence in the ability of the Departmentwide website to communicate what they think is important?
  • Did it happen because executives or staff don’t know, understand, or (most important) value the Department’s web policies?
  • Was it an off-the-cuff idea that gained momentum without consideration of its ramifications on the rest of the agency, the government as a whole, or the public?

In truth, it probably was a little bit of each of these factors…and maybe others.

HUD has a long-standing policy that there is one single website for the agency and that everyone will promote that URL. Yet key executives decided to do something different. They surely had compelling reasons to take this action. What were they?

URL "creep" isn’t just HUD’s problem – in fact, HUD has been better than most agencies in controlling website proliferation. This is a problem that needs to be addressed across government. And to do that, we need to understand the causes. Ultimately – another URL is not good for citizens.

What is so important about having a new URL? Answer that question, and you’ll be on the road to solving the problem.

Related Posts: Stop the Proliferation of Federal Websites

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think they created the new site because they didn't try to analyze their current content. New must be better? I think they should have tried fixing what they had first.