Clackamas County has always invested significant resources in its Internet presence. The County’s website is more than just a combination of diverse departments, agencies and services — it is the face of the County. To many of the citizens and businesses of the County, it may be the primary, or only, interface they have with critical County services and information. It is imperative that the County provides efficient, secure, and easy access to services for an ever-increasing range of customers that have come to rely on these services.
Over the years, Clackamas County has deployed numerous in-house and vendor-based applications and databases to provide services from law enforcement to health care and from public records to mapping services. As the website became larger and increasing complex, a concern grew for efficient utilization of resources. It was decided to not only overhaul the entire website but to go beyond just another refresh and to actually develop a truly pioneering and innovative County presence that would be the envy of other agencies.
The initial step was to get control of the content. To accomplish this, Clackamas County implemented a Content Management System (CMS) several years ago to both control content and establish a common platform for County “content providers” to manage their information. This CMS was recently implemented and all content converted to the new system and format.
With the CMS implemented, the real work began to essentially “re-imagine” the entire website — both overall design and service delivery. Clackamas County Technology Services has the capability to develop and implement just about any website, but what was needed was a new overall content strategy that would meld cutting-edge technology with the service needs of the County — something beyond “cool” gimmicks and would instead provide a rewarding service experience for County users. Thus the term “re-imagination” was coined.
To achieve this new content strategy and ensure all current best practices were incorporated a major project was established that incorporated key technical and business staff from the County, County stake holders, County citizens and businesses with the guidance of local contractor WhiteHorse, Inc. A 6-month intensive business and technical analysis followed. This analysis was broad in scope and involved reviewing the many business and technical requirements of the County, customer interviews (surveys and 1-on-1 interviews), and reviews of industry trends and successful government websites. All aspects of a successful county site were reviewed including content management, overall design, customer requirements and access methods, internet availability in the region, governance, funding, applications, mobility options, language and social barriers, marketing goals and overall County goals — now and into the future. WhiteHorse and our team invested significant resources into determining the most efficient, innovative and service oriented design that could be built and supported the County. Based on these findings, our TS developers have developed the new service architecture and site design for the County website. Key features of the design included that it should be service-based, simple and easy to use for all customers. This meant individual department objectives would be secondary and not distract from the overall customer-first aspect of the design. To enforce this policy, a Web Governance Committee was formed to maintain and evolve the County website and ensure it is an effective County service portal now and into the future.
With the establishment of a Content Management System (CMS) and new web design, the County’s Internet presence is re-established. At this point the County is migrating the old website to the new design on a department-by-department schedule to minimize disruption of services. However, this is just the beginning. Along with a new Web Governance Committee that is tasked with the ongoing direction of the website, the County is committed to maintaining an increased emphasis to provide even more services. Once the current phase of the new website is completed, there is already a phase 2 planned. This includes enhancements such as location-based mobile services, increased access to public records and information, new permitting and assessment applications, enhanced social media and messaging services and much more. Clackamas County is truly dedicated to producing an Internet experience that is more than just a pretty website, but a new level in customer service and innovation.
Benefits & Services
With the completion of the WhiteHorse-led assessment and new Internet design, we endeavor to have:
- Innovative design to enhance rapid delivery of services
- Responsive, mobile-first, device-agnostic design to be as universal as possible
- Flexible format to present important information and services that are needed the most
- Standardized format for ease of use, efficient support and County identify while allowing level of departmental autonomy for specific marketing and business objectives
- Powerful, flexible and customizable Content Management System (CMS) useable by both experienced and novice “content providers”
- Maintaining governance requirements including ADA
- Establishment of Social Media best practices
- Development of meta-data standards for content to allow fast and relevant search capability as well as content management to ensure fresh and useful content
- Client driven design recognizing the diverse needs and composition of the Clackamas community
- Exciting format while maintaining simplistic navigation and minimal unnecessary content
- Easy to navigate based on services rather than any hierarchy or bureaucracy
- Integration of custom developed & vendor provided applications to maximize service potential
- Increased use of multimedia capabilities such as video / audio on-demand and live streaming
- Utilization of GovDelivery to assist in messaging and self managed communication
- Progressive monitoring and analysis to tune services to the demands of the users
- Designed to deliver more services securely online thus reducing costs for both users and the County – especially with the reduced need to support onsite transactions – paperless transactions and workflow
- Enforceable policy around content and service management allowing efficient, reliable and consistent development and delivery of services
- Establishment of review committee for ongoing analysis of utilization, new concepts and overall continuous improvement process
- Reduced overall costs by utilizing open source solutions such as Postgress and Alfresco, as well a reduced support costs by enforcing standardization
The Clackamas County Internet site is designed to be utilized on all current web browsers and mobile devices. The applications vary with the particular technical requirements. The basic technology deployed is:
- HTML5 and CSS3
- Alfresco XX Content Management System and metadata management
- Postgres SQL Databases
- ESRI GIS for mapping services
- GovDelivery for self-subscribed messaging