An Honest Review of the New Modern County Website

by Placerville Newswire / Jun 29, 2017 / comments

[Cris Alarcon]

This week I wrote a short review announcing the opening of the County’s new Website that, at best, could be called one-sided.  No excuses, I screwed up and I am sincerely sorry to any I inadvertantly hurt.  Cris Alarcon.

Now for an honest review.

Responsiveness:

It is true that there were “dead links” as reported, but it is also true that dead and missing links are normal problems in the course of any major upgrade to a complex website like our county has today.  The minor issue of dead links became the story rather than the upgrades.  Unfortunate, and fortuitous at the same time!  

Rather than hide from the fire of criticism, this staff met it head-on even going so far as responding to criticism online in even the harshest forums where the subject is debating local issues.  The response from the county was refreshing and worthy of note. The response was, “what links, we will fix them, here is a place to report any other bad links.”  Within hours those problems were addressed and restored.  No defensiveness, just, “we will fix it.”  

Even after I harpooned the website early this week, when I asked for comment, all they asked was, “Would you consider reiterating this part of the press release that talks about what to do when someone encounters a broken link:  However, users may encounter a ‘file not found’ error on some bookmarked or favorited pages due to site content remapping that improves the overall searchability of the website. If this occurs, users can either search for the page in the main Search El Dorado County bar at the top of the homepage or navigate through the site on their own.”  

Fast and friendly action from a government agency when you are telling them they are wrong, seems far too rare these days.  In that regard, this group of county employees ROCKS!

The Upgrades:

Yes, real upgrades. The look and feel, or “GUI,” has gone from a drop-down look common over five years ago, to a layered look where multimedia content is visible (and interesting looking) right from the initial screens.  Additional links and menus are easy to find.

Not only is it far better looking, more importantly it is designed to get the information from the departments out to the public in a faster, and more engaging manner, than with the old format.  Getting information about what an agency or department is doing, is a key public want. The software design and layout of the new website does provide government components a better way to communicate to the publics it serves.

So I see it as better looking, more functionality with devices like smartphones, more engaging, and more interactive…  Well, I guess I agree with the Media Release claiming a “New Modern” county website.

Now that we can see that the county website is an effective communications tool already being used by some departments, no longer will departments be able to hide behind the excuse of poor communications technology.  

Better looking, multimedia, smartphone enabled, holding the government accountable to the people, AND service with a smile, a home run!

But wait, I was saving the best for last…  As many know, I am in the information business. Much of it in the form of news.  I know better than most the value of being able to get timely news from government agencies.  This new format for our county is ideal for enabling departments to quickly issue information during period of emergency or crises to the community segments they serve.  It might sound like a bunch of words now, but I believe that when we have our first county emergency we will see a new method of direct communications from response and service teams, directly to the affected publics, that is far more effective then we have ever seen before…

Let me say that again, this new website will deliver better service to the public during the next county emergency than we have ever seen before!  In prior emergencies the most effect responses to communicate with the public during major crimes or fires, has been by using the technology of third party vendors like Facebook and Twitter.  This upgrade will enable our own county departments to be as effective technology-wise communicating with the public, without using a third-party intermediary.  That is the kind of independence and efficiency that many are looking for in our county government.

So hop on and take it for a spin, I think you will be as surprised as I was.  Check out a few big departments and look at how much better the layout is, how much more engaging it is.  It will take a bit for us old-timers to find our way around the new roads, but the view is great and there are services on every corner.

The website address remains www.edcgov.us
 

About the cost, just over $40,000.  Sounds like plenty and it is, but the reality is that this a bargain deal for the magnitude of this upgrade on a website as complex as a governmental site like ours.