U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) Inspections Team
SERVICE TO THE CITIZEN AWARD WINNERS
Homeowners and renters struggled to stay in their homes due to COVID-19-related economic conditions and life challenges. The patchwork of federal, state, and local relief, moratoriums, and other policy proved to be confusing to those seeking help from the government. Therefore, HUD assembled its COVID-19 guidance and helpful links on a dedicated page on HUD.gov. However, the information was not always organized in a way that allowed customers to quickly find answers and assistance.
The REAC Inspections Team wanted to better communicate information about the resumption of inspections so customers could clearly understand what that means for them. To do this work, the REAC Inspection Team collaborated with HUD’s Customer Experience (CX) team to form an integrated project team and worked together to improve the user experience (UX) of webpages for renters and partners/providers and related stakeholders. The REAC team provided subject matter expertise and the CX team brought their HCD expertise to improve that experience. To ensure that HUD customers’ experience was improved, the team used a human centered design (HCD) approach with a special focus on HCD research methods with complementary User Experience (UX) design, prototyping, and validation methods to develop and validate content according to ease of use and comprehension defined by potential website users.
The team used best practices for usability and standards for government websites, namely US Web Design Standard (USWDS) and PlainLanguage.gov. The process included analysis of the current state, ideation and prototyping of content and layout which was rapidly iterated in response to user feedback gathered using HCD methods. This enabled the team to refine, improve, and validate hypotheses as feedback and reactions happened. Over multiple testing cycles the team quickly iterated the prototype and released a new site on November 15, 2021 that was well received by housing providers and residents.