Jefferson County, CO Holds Usability Tests & Builds Responsive Website
From the plains to the foothills, life is beautiful in Jefferson County, Colorado. It offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, making it a popular tourist destination, and home for active, outdoor enthusiasts. Once an agricultural and mining area, today Jefferson County, Colorado is a thriving suburban, business, industrial, recreational, and residential community experiencing rapid growth and development.
The municipal leadership in Jefferson County is comprised of more than 3,000 staff, working to serve the County’s 550,000 plus population. Like many quickly growing communities, the civic leaders in Jefferson County are committed to finding innovative ways to continue serving its diverse population of citizens at the highest possible level. When it was time to modernize and redesign its civic website to offer a mobile responsive solution, Jefferson County’s leaders chose to partner with CivicPlus®, and take advantage of its CivicEngage® content management system (CMS).
The Need for Modern, Digital Services
According to Julie Story, Jefferson County Digital Marketing Manager and Kate McIntire, Jefferson County Public Engagement Director, the county knew its previous civic website was in need of an upgrade to better meet the needs of its citizens.
“We have many different kinds of customers and clients in our county,” said Story, “including many people who don’t own a computer and only use a smartphone to access the Internet. The ability to build a website that would function efficiently on a mobile device was a priority.”
McIntire added, “We have a tech-savvy population, and we knew that they wanted more online services. We are always conscientious of budget and resource allocations, but our leaders were committed to a renewed focus on tech and innovation, and we knew a redesigned website would help us better meet the needs of our citizens.”
Before Jefferson County transitioned to the CivicEngage CMS, it maintained a civic website that was not mobile responsive, a concern for the county considering its growing tech-savvy population.
The Search for a Long-Term Partner
Jefferson County issued a request for proposal for a partner that could help it build a mobile responsive and modern website. According to McIntire, one of the county’s website redesign team’s priorities was to find a solution that would allow it to maximize its budget.
“It was important to us not necessarily to spend more money, but to spend our budget more wisely and build a solution that would create efficiencies through technology that would benefit our citizens,” said McIntire.
In its search for a quality solution provider, the county completed a robust proposal review and partner selection process. In the end, they chose the solution provider that could deliver on the county’s critical requirements: CivicPlus.
“It was a bonus for us that CivicPlus specializes in website design for local government,” said Story. “CivicPlus met all of our essential criteria, including offering a platform that is mobile responsive.”
Validating Decisions Through Usability Testing
As the county worked to optimize its new CivicEngage website, it implemented strategic usability testing sessions comprised of both internal staff and citizens. A goal of the sessions was to ensure that choices the redesign team was making relative to navigation, integration with partner agencies, content, usability, and design would help the county achieve its goal of offering an enhanced digital experience and better self-service options for its citizens.
The county wanted to obtain feedback and experience data from a large population of testers, so to recruit participants for the usability testing sessions, the team creatively marketed the sessions as an opportunity to see a sneak peek of the county’s new website.
The county used a multi-channel communication strategy to advertise its need for testers that included social media platforms such as Facebook and Nextdoor, and direct emails. The testing sessions were held daily over the course of a week. By the end of the sessions, they had obtained valuable feedback from approximately 200 participants.
According to McIntire, the sessions were helpful in validating for the website redesign team that its design, navigation, and functionality decisions were helping the county achieve its goals of offering a more robust digital and customer-centric experience for citizens.
Launching a Modern, Mobile Responsive County Website
To help launch the new Jefferson County website and communicate to residents what to expect from the enhanced solution, the county’s public engagement team created and executed a comprehensive marketing communications plan.
“We created a comprehensive communication plan that included a website video tour, features brochure, digital and printed fact sheets, posters hung around county offices, and we made in-person visits around the county to meet with citizens and talk about the new site face-to-face,” said McIntire. “We also posted articles on our intranet that explained to each department where their critical information now resides within the new website.”
As a result of these marketing efforts, there was significant interest among citizens when the new website officially launched.
“We received 100,000 more visits than average in the first three days after we launched the new website,” said McIntire. “So, we knew people were checking it out. Also, the majority of the comments we received via email and social media were positive.”
As Jefferson County continues to work to deliver the highest quality digital experiences to its citizens, the staff appreciate knowing they have a long-term partner in CivicPlus.
“We always looked at CivicPlus as a long-term partner,” said McIntire. “That was something our CivicPlus team emphasized from the beginning of our project—that they weren’t going to build the website and walk away, and we’ve really felt that. In building this new website, we’ve established a good working relationship with our CivicPlus team, and we know we can go confidently into the future together.”
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