Redesign includes more online services and government information
by Katy Zillmer
Sun POST Newspapers
More than a year in the making, Hennepin County’s website has a new look designed to meet the needs of its audience.
The new website design was launched Dec. 4. A lot has changed since 2009, when the last improvements were made to the site, said Hennepin County Web Manager Nancy SooHoo.
First, more users are accessing the county website through their mobile phones or tablet devices like the iPad, SooHoo said.
County communications staff and a contracted web design firm kept that in mind when creating the new website. The appearance of the website transforms to fit the screens of phones or tablets as well as desktop computers or laptops.
It is also designed in such a way that users can quickly find what they need, SooHoo said.
The designers created tasks for site users to try during its development, such as searching for instructions on how to apply for a marriage license or dispose of household hazardous materials, she explained.
The end result of the test process is a site organized for users to locate the information they need with a minimal number of clicks, according to SooHoo.
Four categories are featured at the top of the home page at hennepin.us, including “Residents,” “Business,” “Your government” and “Online services.” The home page also includes popular links, county news releases and access to its social media sites.
The staff working on the site design were charged with removing clutter while making sure all the necessary information was there for residents, SooHoo said.
“The county has over 30 lines of business ranging from the Hennepin County Medical Center to snow plow drivers,” she said. “Every department that has information relevant to the public needs to be on the website.”
County communications staff and web designers kept the information available while reducing the number of pages of content from 2,500 to 300, SooHoo said.
The county added an open government section on the website with information about the leadership priorities, data practices and salaries of elected officials.
Online services including applications for various permits and licenses have been improved on the website, SooHoo said.
Staff will continue to monitor the new site and user feedback. The “Contact” link at the top of the page includes information about county staff and how to report website issues.
In 2012, county residents visited its website 250,000 times per month, according to SooHoo.
Contact Katy Zillmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.