SAI, a digital and IT consulting firm helping clients build, assess and optimize online properties, today announced the launch of a redesigned website for the Anne Arundel County, MD government (AACO). AACO realized a revamp of the site was in order to better serve citizens of the County, employees and other key audiences, but needed assistance with the analysis needed to pinpoint necessary changes and to implement the redesign. SAI was selected by the County to enhance the site’s value by:
- Engaging constituents effectively
- Enabling efficient information discovery and self-service
- Conveying openness and transparency
Before, the website was difficult to navigate, with numerous links and little direction. One user said, “Too many clicks to get to what I am looking for. Things should be easier to find.”
SAI began by surveying more than 1,000 residents to gain insight into their feedback about the current AACO website. One of the biggest challenges—and one shared by many government websites—was difficulty finding the services available to constituents via the web and how to access those services. This finding is consistent with a December 2015 study by Accenture which showed that more than half of respondents surveyed listed the biggest obstacle to connected services is simply not knowing what services can be accessed online. By providing easier access to all available services, AACO would be better able to serve its residents.
“We’ve been working with AACO on this project for the past year and we are extremely happy with the end product. The new website makes it easier for citizens, businesses and visitors to access online services and county information on any device,” said Mark Dabrowski, Vice President, SAI Digital Practice. “I’m proud of the work our team did in research and analysis, information architecture, wireframes and visual design, as well as in development, build out and supporting this great client.”
SAI proposed streamlined navigation and a responsive web design. Using rich and engaging imagery (a mix of photos taken by AACO staff and those submitted by residents via Flickr), the new site features:
- Stronger self-service functions: for example, the streamlined navigation allows users to easily find information about topics such as moving to or visiting Anne Arundel County, available jobs, opening a small business, and directions to locations such as local parks, schools and senior centers
- Structured, dynamic content for services, programs, locations, forms, publications, news, events and departments (and much more)
- Search and accessibility improvements: for example, the home page now features a prominent search box that allows users to easily search for any service or program, as well as a link to view all services and programs that can then be filtered by department or action
The site is now accessible from any device: laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile phone. To further improve engagement, the website is fully integrated with the County’s social media channels. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube feeds are featured prominently on the homepage and department-specific social media channels are featured on various department pages throughout the site, helping residents stay up-to-date on the latest news and events throughout the region. In addition, users can submit their photos to the AACO Flickr account, from which select photos will be featured on the new website’s homepage.
“We are very proud of our new online platform because it is visually attractive and user-friendly,” said County Executive Steve Schuh. “Our new website is packed with useful tools, more pictures and video and robust search features. Now it will be easier than ever to find out why Anne Arundel County is the best place to live, work and start a business.”
The new site organizes information so that users can easily identify where information can be found, and the imagery is modern and engaging.
By addressing common concerns of its staff and citizens, the new AACO website will help create a more positive perception of the Anne Arundel County Government, which could have long-term benefits including, greater participation in county events, fewer frustrated calls to customer service centers and greater voter turnout in upcoming elections.