House Redesigns Website as Information Hub

Posted March 17, 2011 at 6:01pm

House staff got a peek Thursday afternoon at the chamber’s redesigned website, which will roll out in mid-April.

John Clocker, the director of Web systems for the Chief Administrative Officer, previewed the sleek blue-on-white design, which aims to make more user-friendly.

Among the new features will be up-to-date information on the home page about committee schedules, the latest votes and information from the Clerk of the House. The home page currently contains links that redirect Web users to other pages with that information.

Clocker noted that he will need committee assistance to keep the information on hearings updated.

“We’re going to have to reach out to you guys to make this work,” he said at the preview briefing, which about 30 staffers attended. Most were from the Clerk’s office, but a few were from Member and committee staffs.

The new design will update the Find Your Representative feature, which allows visitors to input a ZIP code to find the House Member who represents that area. The current function simply generates a link to the Member’s website, but the redesigned site will take visitors to a page with an embedded Google map of the Member’s district. The page will also include the Member’s office addresses, phone numbers and website link, and Clocker said it may grow to include social media profiles.

The CAO is also working on Member lists, organized alphabetically or by state, that include links to each Member’s website.

The redesign will also offer versions of the home page that are customized for visitors, students, the media and job seekers.

But at Thursday’s briefing, there was no customized home page option for one set of Capitol Hill regulars, Clocker noted. “We don’t want lobbyists up there. But we’ll probably think of a word for that,” he said.

Four boxes highlighting Congressional programs will rotate at the bottom of the home page. Each box will link to the websites for the programs, which will include the Congressional Art Competition, the Clerk’s Kids in the House program and the oral history program.

The new home page will also showcase a large box with chamber information unrelated to legislation and politics, such as historical facts or upcoming events like the annual Christmas tree lighting. “I don’t want to say it’s not substantive, but it’s not controversial,” Clocker said.

Clocker said he would like to integrate more constituent- or Member-submitted content as well, such as photos of constituents with Members.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who leads the House Technology Working Group, told staffers that their suggestions for the redesign are welcome. A survey asking for staffers’ opinions about the new site will soon be available on the House’s intranet, HouseNet.