Madera County has launched their new website, and what a difference! If you haven’t been to www.madera-county.com in a while, you will be surprised and delighted by what Robert Connal, Director of Information Technology Department, and his team have done with this now-user-friendly resource.
The county website has been completely redesigned. In Connal’s presentation to the Board of Supervisors on June 26, 2012, he explained, “The existing platform was put into place in about 2001, and the internet and available features have progressed a hundred-fold since then. We couldn’t easily integrate new internet options into the existing platform.”
In the past decade, the County website has been “perfunctory,” says Connal. “It was a one-way communication. Posting information for people to go and look at. The goal in our redesign was first and foremost, service. We wanted to put as many self-service features on the website as possible. If a citizen can perform a task on the website 100%, end to end, and not engage an employee, there is a natural cost reduction, and the obvious benefit of enhanced service to our fellow citizens.”
The second goal was to integrate advanced features that one finds on most websites these days. Video, instant messaging, interactive maps and calendars. People can have live chats (coming soon), obtain permits, pay property taxes and search departments and documents.
“Being able to have a live chat with those employees who can answer questions quickly, avoids emails or citizens having to come down and go to the counter,” said Connal. “We have a much more useable website and we hope this generates interest in the site because it’s just information only, it’s ‘I want to do something, and now I can do it on the website.'”
The third goal of the redesign was cost. “Of course the cost factor is extremely important,” said Connal. “My directive was to use open source free software as much as possible. The total cost for all the software for the new site was about $500. Very inexpensive. An add-on here, and a widget there. The net result savings to the IT budget should be about $18,000. It’s a win-win.”
The new website will make it much easier for people to do business with the County. Not only can folks take care of business, they can email and print, share on Google, Facebook, Twitter and all the social media, and with the click of a mouse, the pages can also be translated into several different languages.