The Maryland Department of Human Services announced today that its website was awarded the the WebAward for Outstanding Achievement in Web Development. The 24th annual WebAwards is the longest running competition dedicated to naming the best websites in 96 industries while setting the standard of excellence for all website development.

Organized by the Web Marketing Association, entries from 42 countries were submitted during the competition. Judges from industry leaders like Microsoft, IBM, McAfee, Warner Bros. Pictures, Xerox, and National Geographic were among the panel selecting the winners.

Entries were judged on seven criteria: design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copywriting and ease of use to target audience. During the stringent evaluation process, the judges visit each website and assume the role of a target user. In Maryland’s case, judges would have assumed the role of a vulnerable Marylander in need of assistance and going to the Department of Human Services’ website seeking help.

“Our constituents’ needs and delivering excellent customer service are the driving forces behind everything we do,” said Lourdes R. Padilla, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Services. “As we continue our progress with Maryland’s Total Human-services Integrated Network (MD THINK), this award demonstrates our innovative approach to web development and the standards of excellence we are applying to all of the large scale technology projects our agency is leading.”

The Department of Human Services’ website earned near perfect scores in Design (9.5), Content (9.5), and Copywriting (9.0), with one judge praising, “A really nice website. Easy to navigate, good choice of simple but effective colors. Great job!” This stands as a particularly notable achievement for the Department, when compared to the Industry Average scores for these categories currently at just 7.5, 8.1, and 8.0 respectively.

“Our website was designed to prioritize customer service and offer a streamlined, functional platform that connects our customers in fewer clicks to the information that they need, while also making the most sought-after resources easier to find,” said Katherine Morris, Communications Director at the Maryland Department of Human Services, who oversaw the redesign. “We did not hire an outside agency, rather, all of the work was done within our Department, which speaks to the skill, creativity, and talent we have here at DHS.”

With 47% of users accessing the website via their phone, mobile responsiveness was a major priority when redesigning the website. When evaluating how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced information delivery, since March of 2020, mobile traffic to the site has increased by 170%. The Department’s website provides an optimal viewing and interaction experience for a wide-range of mobile devices as it’s easy to read and navigate — requiring limited resizing, panning, and scrolling. The site also conforms to the Department of Information Technology’s standards and best practices for digital communication.

As their work continues on the innovative, cloud-based, MD THINK, the Department of Human Services remains focused on identifying unique opportunities to use technology to improve service delivery and address the ever-changing needs of Marylanders.


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