Website of the Year Award!
CCHRCO Website of the Year!
X-Large Public Housing Agency Category | South Carolina
Congratulations Columbia Housing, YOU are the Carolinas Council of Housing, Redevelopment, & Codes Officials (CCHRCO) 2020 Website of the Year Contest winner for the state of South Carolina! Please join us in congratulating Columbia Housing on this achievement. You can view their award-winning, innovative, and interactive website at www.columbiahousingsc.org.
CCHRCO's Website of the Year Contest is presented in the following categories to Public Housing Agencies in North and South Carolina.
- Small Public Housing Agency | 1-250 total units
- Medium Public Housing Agency | 251 - 500 total units
- Large Public Housing Agency | 501 - 1500 total units
- X-Large Public Housing Agency | 1501+ total units
Note - total units include the total number of all HUD-assisted units (i.e, Public Housing & HCV).
The judging criteria include color and design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copyrighting, and ease of use.
COLOR & DESIGN
The colors used on the website reflect Columbia Housing's branding which features patriot hues (red, white, and blue) to project a friendly, approachable image for the Public Housing Agency. The website's innovative design communicates the Agency's core messaging through consistent use of branding.
The previous static website did not display well on mobile devices, which hindered many residents from accessing important information. Columbia Housing's new responsive website design auto-adjusts for optimal viewing on all digital devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphones).
The new website design also addresses Section 508 standards using WCAG and ADA Level A and AA accessibility success criteria to help ensure the website content is available to those who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, or experience mobility issues.
The new, responsive Columbia Housing website is among the first Housing Authority websites in the nation to fully address Section 508, WCAG and ADA Level AA accessibility success criteria with the site's design, programming, and content.
The website offers 24/7 telephone support for site visitors who are experiencing accessibility issues. The site also features innovative Content Management System (CMS) functionality which prompts the Columbia Housing staff to properly describe and tag images to help maintain accessibility for site visitors who use assistive technology such as screen readers. These features are innovative for a Housing Authority of Columbia's size, due to the large volume of information and number of people served through the website.
Additional website features include:
- Special Alert Notifications which can be added to the home page by the Columbia Housing staff in the event important messages need to be communicated to residents and the public (messages appear in a prominent red bar at the top of the website)
- Language Translation feature allows site visitors to select their specific browser to improve access to information
- Text and Email Notification feature allows subscribers to sign up to receive updates from Columbia Housing
- Interactive Property Map feature with custom icons, descriptions, sort feature and list view includes schools and local amenities
- Portals for Residents, Landlords, Staff, Board Members, and Pay Online
- Poll Question to gain feedback and gauge public response
- Social Media Integration allows updates from the website to automatically post to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- How Do I? feature provides immediate access to frequently-asked, relevant questions.
Columbia Housing's website content is stakeholder-focused to inform and engage our target audiences. Through the website content, we effectively promote our new agency branding (Columbia Housing /CHCares) and client-centered messaging to the community.
Frequent updates are made to the site content using the website's Content Management System (CMS). Features such as Latest News, Upcoming Events/Calendar, Photo Gallery, Business Opportunities, and Special Alert Notifications keep site visitors informed and up to date.
The site content includes important details concerning the housing programs offered by our agency, as well as key instructions for residents and landlords regarding these programs.
Information about the Agency is also featured, including our Annual Plans, Board of Commissioners, Career Opportunities, History, Staff Directory, and more.
Site content is ADA accessible for screen readers and other assistive/adaptive technologies, including keyboard-command navigation.
The responsive website was developed using the latest design and programming standards to address Section 508 accessibility using WCAG and ADA Level AA success criteria.
The browser-agnostic website design works with commonly used browsers found on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems and mobile devices (Mobile HTML 5 compliant). The site utilizes open standards in website development including Apache, PHP, and MySQL to ensure cross-platform compatibility.
To enhance security, the site utilizes a proprietary Content Management System (CMS), also built using open standards to ensure accurate display regardless of platform. Administrative access to the CMS is provided via Static IP or VPN for authorized users only.
The Columbia Housing website serves as a comprehensive information hub and 24/7 resource for stakeholders and includes several interactive features to enhance communications with stakeholders:
- Apply Online - allows potential residents to apply online (during open waitlist period)
- Pay Rent Online - e-commerce portal provides convenient online rent payment processing
- Maintenance Requests - residents can quickly submit a maintenance request via an online form
- Interactive Communities Property Map - displays various property types (by color code) plus, community amenities and resources (schools, shopping, housing office, etc.)
- Sign Up for News / Notifications via Text & Email - stakeholders can sign up to receive a text and/or email notifications when news and updates are posted to the website
- Check Application Status - allows potential residents to sign in to the portal and check their status
- Poll Module - allows the public to provide opinions on important topics that shape Agency policy
- Homeownership Class Registration - residents can sign up for classes online via a third-party event app
- Business Opportunities - available RFPs/RFQs/Bids posted online along with procurement forms and Section 3 information
- Landlord portal - allows landlords to register and manage payments via a third-party portal
- Social Media & CMS integration - links to Columbia Housing's social media pages are featured to boost engagement with stakeholders; Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are integrated with the website CMS to allow synchronized updates and consistent messaging across multiple media channels
EASE OF USE
The redesigned, enhanced Columbia Housing Website features improved navigation for stakeholders. Important information is easily accessible with minimal clicks. The site features a robust site search feature and a site map that is content-aware (automatically updates when pages are added or removed), helping to ensure site visitors quickly locate information. The new website also addresses Section 508, WCAG, and ADA Level AA Accessibility Success Criteria to improve information access for all site visitors.
The Content Management System (CMS) is easy to use and allows our staff to update the website 24/7.
Follow Us At
Please visit our website at ColumbiaHousingsc.org for more information about Columbia Housing!