Routt County hopes to make website more user friendly in upcoming redesign
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County is starting the process of redesigning its website, hoping to make it more user friendly for local residents.
The site was last updated 3 1/2 years ago and is due for a refresh in April. Over the next few months, Helena Taylor, enterprise applications analyst for the county, will be working with county employees to determine what they would like to see in an updated site.
“When we first designed it, it was fairly streamlined, it was nice,” Taylor said.
Over time, the website gets cluttered because things have been added hastily, often in a less-than-ideal way, Taylor said. The redesign will be clean up these issues, making the site run more smoothly.
Taylor said its also a goal to make the website more accessible and transparent to the public. The county has been considering sending a survey to residents to collect feedback on the website’s functionality.
“I am not as inclined to think about what I want in the website as what the people that are trying to find information might want,” Commissioner Beth Melton said. “I know how to find the information that I want in it, and whatever ways we have to make it more accessible and transparent to the public are more important to me.”
Robin Schepper, who handles public communication for the county, said right now, the website is very department focused, rather than being consumer focused.
“Consumers don’t necessarily know it’s in that department,” Schepper said. “This department, that department, they don’t really care.”
Schepper said the county needs to consider the main questions they receive from residents and then figure out a better way to answer those questions on the website. She pointed to the city of Steamboat Springs website, which uses the same base format, as a better example of a consumer-focused website.
Melton said she has heard feedback about the way the county pushes out information, specifically the page where residents can sign up for updates. The county has more than 70 different notification lists residents can sign up for through the website.
These lists include email and phone updates about emergency alerts, county news, postings for new bids, additions to various meeting agendas and 26 different lists devoted to job openings in various county departments.
“I think the way that it is designed is a little bit cumbersome for folks,” Melton said.
She added she gets a lot of questions about when the commissioners are meeting, and she thinks their page specifically could be organized better.
Agendas for Routt County Board of Commissioners meetings are posted on the website, but they are split into three separate sections. Agendas for Monday work sessions, Tuesday regular meetings and special meetings are separated rather than being grouped in one list.
“I think the general public doesn’t really care what type of meeting it is. … They want to know that we are meeting and how they can access that,” Melton said.
There also have been a number of changes in the county that need to be addressed in the redesign. For example, when the website was last redesigned the Public Health Department did not exist.
Commissioner Tim Corrigan said he is confused when people tell him they cannot find information about COVID-19 on the website. Though there are large banner links on nearly every page of the county website, COVID-19 information is actually housed on a different site.
Taylor suggested the county establish a committee of some county employees frequently using the website to guide the redesign. To get public feedback, she said a short survey may be sent out to residents to see what they would like in the redesign.
“Something that would take just a minute or so for someone to go in and give us some input,” Taylor said.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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