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Service is focus of Douglas County’s new website

Have you checked it out? Douglas County has a new website that features an abundance of information and user-friendly options designed to get visitors the information they need quickly.

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Brent Birkeland, the county’s information technology (IT) director, said, “That’s been one of our top priority projects. When I came on board, we did a strategic planning process with other departments here and it was obvious there was desire to upgrade or improve the capabilities of our [existing] website. That was very important.”

During upgrade and planning discussions, Birkeland said the IT steering committee was looking for three key features for the new site:

● Assimilating data from all different data sources and platforms within the county,

● Addressing mobile platforms with responsive design, and

● Addressing public interaction.

The content-management company, Oxcyon, was hired to redesign and update the site (www.co.douglas.mn.us) and it was launched in late February.

SERVICE FOCUSED

Birkeland said, as opposed to the county’s old website, the new one is a service-oriented design.

“You can see some themes across the top of the website, as far as service offerings and what we do here at local government,” he said, pointing to the computer screen on his desk.

“I think the first-generation, governmental websites were very department-specific. This is the department, this is what we do, and for the customer, they didn’t always know where to find the information if they didn’t know what department they were dealing with. We really tried to take an approach that’s service related.”

About 50 people have registered with the county’s new website and receive communications.

“That’s going to continue growing,” Birkeland said.

Users can sign up to receive county-related calendar updates, news releases and newsletters.

The site also has an excellent search capability, Birkeland said.

WEBSITE TRAFFIC STATS

“Our website statistics are pretty interesting when we stop and take a look at them,” Birkeland said.

On an average weekday, the new site receives approximately 600 to 800 visits, he said. The most popular pages are parcel inquiries and the jail inmate roster.

The busiest website traffic day for Douglas County was February 25 – the day after a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy was shot and survived.

“Our web traffic on that date doubled,” Birkeland said. “Law enforcement is a very active area of our site, whether it’s the jail or information on the sheriff’s office.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

What’s next for Douglas County’s website?

Birkeland said they’re working to bring credit card payment options to the site, expanding social media interaction and enhancing Geographic Information Systems mapping pages for mobile use.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

(320) 763-3133
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