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St. Louis County to launch new and improved website

By Dana Kazel
People looking for information about St. Louis County government, programs and services will soon have an easier way to find it. The county is about to launch a new website that includes improved design and organization of information, and a faster search function. The shift to the new website will take place tonight.

The website address will remain the same: stlouiscountymn.gov.

The new website is mobile friendly, with a layout that adapts for screen sizes ranging from smart phones to tablets to desktop monitors. Information on the site is organized both by department as well as topic areas. A search bar plus links to the most commonly sought information is featured prominently on the home page. Also on the home page is a calendar of upcoming St. Louis County Board meetings and other events, and the latest county news.

A survey of residents conducted by the county in 2016 revealed that nearly a quarter of people identify the website as their preferred way to learn about county services. Meanwhile, the county’s Information Technology (IT) Department tracked website traffic and found that now more than half of all online visits are coming from smart phones and tablets.

“The results were clear. People want a reliable electronic communication mechanism that is mobile friendly,” said Jeremy Craker, IT Director for St. Louis County. “This new website provides a responsive design that is friendly to both traditional laptop or desktop users, and is fully mobile friendly.”

As part of the redesign process, the county conducted separate surveys with citizens, employees and select business groups that use the website, as well as reviewed web analytics of the existing site to determine what information people were looking for, and what kind of experience they were having trying to find it. It was concluded that the existing site actually had too much information on it, making the most needed information harder than necessary to find.

The new site features a 40 percent reduction in pages, a cleaner and consistent design across all departments, and condensed text. Contact information, including a phone number and email address specific to the information on each page is featured prominently for people who have questions or need additional assistance.

“When we can put the resources that residents want and need directly at their fingertips, it results in better overall customer service, which is always our goal,” said Kevin Gray, St. Louis County Administrator. “But it also improves our staff efficiency because it reduces phone calls and emails from people who are frustrated trying to find answers to their questions.”

Creative Arcade of Duluth designed the new site and worked with county staff on development of it. The new website should be live and fully functional Thursday evening at stlouiscountymn.gov.