County un­veils im­proved web­site

The Beacon Herald - - NEWS - GALEN SIM­MONS STAFF RE­PORTER

Perth County now has a new and im­proved on­line pres­ence.

Af­ter the county and all four of its mem­ber mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties hired eSo­lu­tion­sGroup Ltd. last year to re­design each of the mu­nic­i­pal web­sites, the county’s in­terim eco­nomic devel­op­ment and tourism co­or­di­na­tor, Han­nah Conroy, took county coun­cil­lors through the fea­tures of their re­cently launched web­site at Thurs­day’s reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing.

“The pri­mary goal with the new web­site is to cre­ate a pos­i­tive user ex­pe­ri­ence for the pub­lic. We want to make in­for­ma­tion and data eas­ier to ac­cess, eas­ier to cre­ate and eas­ier to share,” Conroy said.

To al­low more peo­ple to ac­cess county-spe­cific in­for­ma­tion on­line, the new web­site was de­signed to be re­spon­sive to all mo­bile de­vices.

“I took a look at some Google An­a­lyt­ics data from Au­gust 2016 to 2017, so last year with the old site. Thirty-one per cent of users were look­ing at the web­site on a mo­bile de­vice or tablet, which I thought was sur­pris­ingly high con­sid­er­ing the old de­sign wasn’t re­spon­sive. Of those users, the bounce rate – which es­sen­tially means when some­body leaves the site right away – was over 70 per cent,” Conroy said. “So we’re hop­ing with this new de­sign that bounce rate will de­crease.”

Other fea­tures of the new site in­clude an ac­ces­si­bil­ity edit­ing tool that al­lows users to read con­tent in larger fonts and dif­fer­ent lan­guages; a com­pre­hen­sive search tool that can find spe­cific words in both posted con­tent and PDF doc­u­ments; the op­tion for users to share what they read on so­cial me­dia; a page for cit­i­zen feed­back; and the op­tion for res­i­dents to fill out var­i­ous ap­pli­ca­tions and forms on­line.

“(eSo­lu­tions) worked re­ally hard us­ing the form builder tool to mi­grate sev­eral PDF-based forms to on­line forms – the grant re­quest form and the travel per­mit form, for ex­am­ple – and pay­ments can now be made on­line, which makes it eas­ier for peo­ple. There have ac­tu­ally been some al­ready sub­mit­ted since we launched,” Conroy said.

From the home page, users can nav­i­gate the site through four main tabs in the up­per right hand cor­ner. Un­der the Liv­ing Here tab, there are links to in­for­ma­tion about the county’s mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices, the Perth County events cal­en­dar, in­for­ma­tion on pay­ing prop­erty taxes, and much more, all of which is geared to­wards res­i­dents.

Un­der the Dis­cover tab, vis­i­tors to Perth County can find links to the busi­ness di­rec­tory, the events cal­en­dar, his­tory, in­for­ma­tion on travel and ac­com­mo­da­tions, and other in­for­ma­tion of spe­cific in­ter­est to tourists.

Nav­i­gat­ing from the Do­ing Busi­ness tab will take users to a va­ri­ety of re­sources and in­for­ma­tion use­ful to those who ei­ther al­ready own a busi­ness in Perth County, or are look­ing to es­tab­lish a new busi­ness here.

“What I want to high­light un­der the Do­ing Busi­ness pil­lar is the statis­tics (link). So this is pow­ered through a com­pany called Town­fo­lio and it’s just a re­ally unique tool,” Conroy said. “It’s got data on de­mo­graph­ics, labour, tax, qual­ity of life, all that type of stuff which is re­ally valid for po­ten­tial in­vestors that are look­ing at the area. And it can be ex­ported to PDF for­mat as well.”

Fi­nally, un­der the County Gov­ern­ment tab, users can find links to in­for­ma­tion on county coun­cil, its meet­ing sched­ule, an on­line bids and ten­ders sub­mis­sion page, the county’s mu­nic­i­pal de­part­ments, staff list­ings, em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties with the county and more.

“It’s a work in progress and we’ve been mak­ing some ad­just­ments along the way since the site launched. We’re def­i­nitely open to feed­back from both coun­cil and the pub­lic… We’re ea­ger to con­tin­u­ously up­grade the site,” Conroy said.

While both the county and Perth South’s new web­sites are up and run­ning, the new web­sites for West Perth, North Perth and Perth East are ex­pected to launch in the near fu­ture. gsim­mons@post­media.com

SCREENSHOT

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