County of Loudoun, VA Partners with CivicPlus for Engagement Strategy
The County of Loudoun, Virginia is the third most populous county in the state. Located just 25 miles west of Washington, D.C., it offers residents beautiful rural landscapes and scenic mountains. It’s heritage dates back to the mid eighteenth century, and the community has played important roles in both the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. Ask some residents what Loudoun County is known for, however, and they’ll offer you three very notable distinctions: wineries, data centers, and growth.
Loudoun has been one of the fastest growing counties in the country for the past ten years and is home to more than 40 wineries. It also maintains more data centers than anywhere else in the world. In fact, up to 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic passes through this idyllic community daily. Data centers occupy more than 9 million square feet in the county, while 1,400 farms take up over 142,000 acres.
For the local government leaders in Loudoun, its digital communications strategy aims to provide residents with the news, information, and resources they need to help continue to make the county an outstanding—and outstandingly unique—place to live and work.
Informed Decision Making
According to Chris Rossbach, Communications Systems Team Lead for the Department of Information Technology in the County of Loudoun, it has been important for the county to utilize a website content management system (CMS) that meets the needs of their citizens. This strategy aims not only to help citizens obtain the information and resources they need quickly, it reduces the burden of phone calls, emails, and walk-in requests for administrative staff.
To help The County of Loudoun ensure its website is meeting citizen needs, it is currently in the process of a strategic redesign led by the civic engagement experts at CivicPlus®. The County has established an internal team of six staff members who are working with CivicPlus on its website redesign initiative. The team is currently in the strategic planning and assessment phase, being led by CivicPlus consultants through the company’s Informed BuildTM process.
The direct result of over 2,500 client websites and over 20 years of experience in local government civic engagement, the Informed Build process utilizes data to drive the design of a website test prototype, and then utilizes the experiences and behaviors of citizens within the test environment to finalize the content, navigation, and functionality of what will become the redesigned website solution.
High Quality Design and Functionality
For the County of Loudoun, the expectation is that the strategic planning process will lead to the highest quality redesigned website.
“Our goal is to create a state-of-the-art website design that is attuned to not just easy access to the most popular pages, but an entire website that is easy for people to navigate,” said Rossbach. “We want the website to be the best that it possibly can be, and we know that with CivicPlus, we can achieve that goal.”
According to Rossbach, not only will the new website offer improved navigation, functionality, and an intuitive architecture, it will offer a new look.
The process of redesigning a website represents a significant project for any community, no matter the size. For the County of Loudoun, it has been important to tackle the redesign challenge with a long-time, valued partner. In addition to the county’s municipal website, Loudoun also maintains three websites designed by CivicPlus: the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, Loudoun Virginia Farms, and the Administration’s internal intranet.
“We’ve worked with CivicPlus for about eight years,” said Rossbach. “Initially, we were attracted to CivicPlus because the CMS that it offers allows users to easily add content. You don’t need to know HTML or Java Script. Today, that system is even easier to use because CivicPlus is constantly improving the different modules and widgets. The ease of use of the system has allowed us to decentralize our website management responsibilities across our organization.”
According to Rossbach, the County of Loudoun has trained staff in every department to be website contributors.
“The most awesome part of the whole system is that non-technical staff members can add their own content, add it easily, and it looks good,” said Rossbach.
A Secure Platform
Thanks to the security of the CivicEngage® website CMS, the County of Loudoun’s website has been protected from the threat of cyber attackers.
“People want to hack our website,” said Rossbach, “but I feel very good about where we are, and about the security of our website and about our ability to meet our citizens’ needs.”
Service and Leadership
Rossbach has been pleased with the service and support the County has received from CivicPlus over the years.
“The up-time is fantastic, and whenever I call for service, the support specialists are responsive. I always get an answer. The front-line team members are great. I also had the chance to visit the corporate office in Manhattan and got to meet our team and get to know them.”
Rossbach values CivicPlus’ commitment to using client suggestions to drive product innovations.
“During my on-site visit, I was struck by how much the company listens to the customer and shapes everything based on the needs of the customers. I also found out that there’s a whole vetting and interview process -before new employees are hired, because the company wants to be sure that anyone they hire is a good fit. As a result, the company has good people working there. I also had the opportunity to meet the president and owner of the company during my visit. They’re great people. You can tell when you have great leadership at the top that it filters down. I’m very happy with CivicPlus. I’ve been in IT for 28 years, and CivicPlus is definitely one of the top vendors I’ve worked with.”
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