County in process of revamping website to make it more user-friendly

Redesign to cost just over $16,000

Jackson County officials want the county website to have a little more flair.

They also want to be able to put more information on the site and make that an easier process.

At the beginning of 2018, expect to see a whole new jacksoncounty.in.gov.

The Jackson County Commissioners recently agreed to have Revize begin designing the new website. The government website design company is based in Troy, Michigan.

The county’s contract with Manhattan, Kansas-based CivicPlus for the current website expires Jan. 31, and the new site by Revize should be live sometime in January, said county Building Commissioner Conner Barnette.

There is a $16,195 design fee that will be spread out over three years. The county will pay $7,665 for the first three years and then drop down to $3,400 from the fourth year on.

Barnette said the county has been paying CivicPlus $5,300 per year, and that amount has gradually increased in recent years. He doesn’t anticipate much of a change in Revize’s yearly charge.

“We’re looking for a more open design,” Barnette said of the website. “We want to push a ton more information out there.”

Right now, there are 23 departments listed on the website. The information is basic, including a brief description of the department, address, contact information and frequently asked questions.

A struggle, though, is posting information on the site.

“Our current website was created years back, and the officeholders that were here when it was implemented and had the access to go into it and make changes have since left for the most part,” Barnette said. “So now, it’s a struggle to get in and get everybody passwords, and it’s hard to upload information on.”

Revize’s website is much more user-friendly, Barnette said.

“How easy it will be to access and upload that information compared to what it is now, I think that will encourage more people,” he said. “The easier it is and the more accessible it is, the more people you are going to have jump on board. Whenever you go in to make an edit on this proposed website, it’s almost like working in (Microsoft) Word.”

Adding pictures and documents, changing fonts and other tasks will be much easier, he said.

“That’s what we have to have because if some of these officeholders change every four years and then somebody new comes in, we need somebody that can come in and not have to know the whole backstory on how to get in and use the website,” Barnette said. “It’s just easy as a username, password and moving on.”

It will be up to the department heads to determine what to include on their pages.

“This does have some more options,” Barnette said. “It’s just a matter of who wants to tap into them and really start digging into it. We want to get as much information out there as possible.”

There also will be a printer-friendly module and direct links to a department’s social media pages. Plus, it will be mobile-friendly.

“For the public as well as our officeholders, this is going to be so much more user-friendly,” Barnette said. “In my opinion, that’s key. People don’t want to search around on your website for 20 minutes to find something.”

The look of the website will go from what Barnette describes as bland to much more modern.

“There just comes a time when it’s time to upgrade, and I think everybody kind of thought it was that time and kind of change course on where we were going,” he said. “It was just time for an update to get everybody fresh. We really like the layout and the design and the openness of what Revize has to offer.”

Barnette said Revize is very hands-on and will consult with county officials in revamping the website. Before the site goes live, the company will provide lessons so each department head knows how to post and make changes on the site.

Revize also will constantly do health checks on the website to make sure nothing is clogging it down or causing issues, Barnette said.

The commissioners were impressed with what they saw from Revize.

“One thing we always get feedback on is we’re not open enough, we don’t have a nice enough website, you can’t go around it, you can’t get to it,” Commissioner Drew Markel said. “This is a really nice, open, easy-to-use website, and then for the departments, it gives them an interface to update their things, as well. If you look at our website and you look at what these guys do, it’s kind of like you’re going from the ’90s to today.”

On the Web

The Jackson County government website is at jacksoncounty.in.gov.

The county recently hired Revize to revamp the website. To look at some of the work that company has done, visit revize.com.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.