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Award-Winning Characteristic #10: Diversity of Communications Channels

The 10th and final installment of our review of Gold Mouse criteria discusses the importance of communicating with constituents through multiple online channels. Users are increasingly expecting their online experiences to be interactive, and are expecting to access information on the platforms they are most comfortable with. Member websites should serve as a bridge to these different platforms and allow users to connect to the Member’s office in a variety of ways.

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Award-Winning Characteristic #9: Diversity of Communications Content

In the 9th part of our continuing series about Gold Mouse criteria, we are covering the importance of including all of your various types of media on your site, such as press releases, floor speeches, videos, and op-eds.

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Award-Winning Characteristic #8: Floor Proceedings

In the 8th part of our continuing series about Gold Mouse criteria, we are covering what you should include on your site about the ongoing activities on the floor of the House or Senate. Most citizens are not familiar with what is going on in Congress or the schedule it keeps, and your website should be a place where people can learn about the legislative process and congressional action.

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The Benefits of Transparency and Accountability in Online Communications

The Internet continues to offer amazing opportunities for members of Congress and constituents to build relationships and communicate in a genuinely constructive way. When the Congressional Management Foundation surveyed congressional staff in 2010, 57 percent said email and the Internet have made members of Congress more “accountable” to their constituents — only 17 percent disagreed.

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Award-Winning Characteristic #7: District/State Information

In the 7th part of our continuing series about Gold Mouse criteria, we are covering what district/state information to post on your website. Having a robust section on the geographical area your Member represents demonstrates the connection your Member has with back home. This part of your website can go a long way to building relationships with your constituents, particularly if you use this section to highlight specific accomplishments of people from your home district or state.

Beyond relationship building, this part of your site may often be the first place people check when they're looking for basic information about your district/state, such as census information or a map.

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Award-Winning Characteristic #4: Constituent Services and Casework

In our continuing series about Gold Mouse criteria, this week's topic is about meeting the needs of your constituents online. Every Member office website should answer constituent questions about how the office can assist them with specific federal agency issues. In addition, your website should include information on all of the basic services that congressional offices provide, such as internships, flag requests, and tours. Fortunately, most of the drafting of this content need only be done once, and does not require significant updating unless policies change.

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Award-Winning Characteristic #3: Usability

In the 3rd part of our 10-part series on building an award-winning congressional website, we cover the ease of using your website as an average user. A good website interface should allow visitors to move quickly and smoothly through the website's various pages utilizing well-designed navigation tools and menu options. While it may seem trivial or obvious, a poor interface can greatly frustrate your constituents and prevent them from finding the information or assistance they seek.

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Award-Winning Characteristic #2: Timeliness

In the 2nd part of our 10-part series on building an award-winning congressional website, we cover the importance of keeping the information on your site up-to-date with items like new press releases and recent floor speeches.

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Gold Mouse Awards Announcement: New Timeframe for Evaluations

In past years, CMF has typically kicked off the Gold Mouse Awards project in June. However, we're doing things a little differently this year—both in terms of our evaluation process and our timeframe. Over the coming weeks, we'll give you more details about how we're changing the awards, but for now, we wanted to let congressional staff (and vendors) know that the website evaluations won't begin until Labor Day. That means you have more time—including August recess—to improve your site.

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