CH@T: County’s new website includes 'service finder' feature, cleaner design

Posted 12/1/21

Chatham County government recently launched a redesigned website, and along with a sleek update in appearance, it’s designed to make it easier for residents, businesses, and other members of the …

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CH@T: County’s new website includes 'service finder' feature, cleaner design

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Posted

Chatham County government recently launched a redesigned website, and along with a sleek update in appearance, it’s designed to make it easier for residents, businesses, and other members of the public to find what they need.

This week, we speak with Chatham County Public Information Officer Kara Lusk Dudley — a member of the team that led the redesign effort — about the changes. The county’s website can be accessed here.

Why was a redesign of the county’s website needed, and what were your goals in the process?

The Chatham County website was last updated more than five years ago. In addition to the website needing to be updated aesthetically, over the last few years the county received feedback from both staff and the public that the website was difficult to navigate and not efficient.

Our goals of the website redesign were to give it a more pleasant and sleek look, and to make it easier for residents, businesses, and other members of the public to find what they need. We always want to provide the best service possible to our community members, and accessibility to information is critical to connecting the people with the programs, services, and leaders of their local government.

One aspect of providing good customer service is offering a variety of options for accessing county services. Where possible, departments have created online programs, forms, and processes for a variety of services. Not only does this provide more options for accessing services, it also makes the process of service access more efficient for the user and county staff.

Who are the primary users of the site?

The Chatham County website is accessed by a variety of users including residents, businesses, visitors, other member of the public, and county staff.

What’s traffic to the site like? Do you anticipate heavier usage with the redesign?

According to website analytics, from March 2020 to March 2021, the Chatham County website had 609,544 total users with more than 2.3 million unique page views. Visitors accessed our website using a desktop computer 61% of the time, a smartphone 35%, and a tablet 4%. Using the analytics and other reports, we were able to determine the most visited web pages on the county’s website. These pages include jobs, tax records, GIS/Mapping, libraries, and Central Permitting & Inspections. This data was instrumental in how we created features on our new homepage including the call-to-action buttons and Service Finder.

As we inform the public about our redesigned website, and as Chatham County continues to grow, we anticipate more website visitors. We hope they will enjoy their experience and continue utilizing the site as much as possible.

Talk about the “Service Finder” feature of the site …

A new feature on the Chatham County homepage is the “Service Finder” tool. Through internal and external surveys, difficulty navigating the old website and finding specific programs and services on the site was among some of the more frequent feedback. This interactive feature makes finding services and information much easier and with fewer clicks. For example, if a resident wants to pay a water bill, the prompts on the dropdown menus take them directly to the webpage to pay.

Is content on the site translated into Spanish?

The website redesign does not include any additional translation programming, as most web browsers already have translation functions that people can use for various languages, including Spanish.

Who was involved in the redesign, and what was the cost?

The Chatham County website redesign project was led by three key staff members — Shannon Culpepper, Recycling & Education Specialist with Solid Waste & Recycling, Courtney Cooper-Lewter, Strategic Initiatives Analyst with the County Manager’s Office, and me. Dozens of other staff members across all county departments, who are also content mangers on the website, were heavily involved in the redesign process as well. During the project, we took the opportunity to update content (which includes improving ADA compliance), train staff who post content, and streamline posting processes for content managers.

The cost of the website redesign was $32,050, which included many tools and services such as custom design, data analytics and heat maps, stakeholder surveys, and user testing. It also included numerous trainings and resources for content users to better manage the website going forward.

And what about browsers and mobile optimization?

Visitors of the Chatham County website will want to make sure they are using an updated browser, such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, etc. Microsoft Internet Explorer is not supported. While the website name is the same, users who have previously bookmarked pages will likely need to navigate to those pages and update their bookmarks. Frequent website users should also delete the history on their web browser.

The website is configured for most mobile devices. Mobile users should note that content may be located in slightly different places on their mobile device than on a computer or tablet.

Website visitors can tell the county what they think of the new site by providing feedback through the county website.

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