Ken Carlson

County Pulse: Stanislaus government website redesigned, will keep evolving

Stanislaus County activated a redesigned government website six weeks ago that officials hope does a better job telling the county’s story and will lead to more online services.

The redesign was done in-house by county staff members, with help from an intern who worked over the summer.

Marcia Cunningham, director of information technology, said it could have cost $200,000 for an outside firm to revamp the site. No more than $3,000 was spent by keeping the work in-house, she said.

“We wanted to tell a story about Stanislaus County and make it attractive,” Cunningham said. “We wanted to share the good things that are happening and get that message out. We have businesses that are growing and thriving, and we wanted citizens to see that.”

The site was reborn with vivid photographs featuring Memorial Medical Center CEO Daryn Kumar scaling a wall, Turlock’s Dust Bowl Brewing Co., entertainment at the Gallo Center for the Arts, fall colors and other scenes.

It is a veritable clickfest of references to recreation and night life, business opportunities, county departments and online services.

Cunningham said the new site is more responsive for people with mobile devices. University of California, Santa Cruz, student Kunal Dhillon volunteered over the summer, converting pages to the new style.

The site has quick links to popular choices such as animal services, the Board of Supervisors, the clerk-recorder’s office or a calendar of events.

Cunningham said it should be easier to find information with the general search function. When a person types a search word in the box, it zeroes in on the specific area of interest. Rather than providing 400 results on anything related to the subject, the search produces more concise results and directs people to actual services they can use.

County departments are developing a list of possible online services to put on the site. The county expects to announce the new online options in 30 to 60 days, Cunningham said. The county has some online services, such as filing a code enforcement complaint or applying for a library card.

Officials have promised public access to election campaign disclosures next year on the county Registrar of Voters pages. There is always demand for featuring more animal services online. The county is a member of the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency with Modesto, Ceres, Waterford, Patterson and Hughson.

County leaders have budgeted $1 million this year for increasing online services with an aim to minimize the “in-line” experience for customers at county offices.

Cunningham said the local government website sees a lot of traffic. Almost 3 million visitors went to last year for a total of 4.5 million page views, or 12,300 views each day.

Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321