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Add new content policies to YC website makeover

The county should give department heads and others the ability to post information on the website

Nov 23, 2012


By The News-Register Editorial Board

We’ve long recognized that Yamhill County’s government website is overdue for a makeover. Fittingly, it’s going to get one soon. When that happens, there also should be new policies that open doors for better communication between the government and its taxpayers.

Information Services Director Murray Paolo anticipates to roll out a redesign of the county’s website soon after the new year. His department also is contracted to manage the city of McMinnville’s website, which launched new design and functionality last year.

Changes in the city’s website system allowed department heads the means to control content, and the county’s site needs a similar transformation. Currently, all content goes through county Administrator Laura Tschabold, but that kind of top-down control hinders the timely update of information people have come to expect from dynamic websites.

A government website serving its residents best is one with daily attention. That level of online services has improved with the city of McMinnville’s site. It is far more aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly than the county’s site, which is five years old and looks another five years older.

Paolo said that improvements to the city website included looking at what information is most viewed online, which turned out to be operating information about the aquatic center and library. Officials made those areas easier to find.

There still is room for improvement: The community center website component could list open gym hours; the Public Works page might keep residents more up to date on current projects; the Latest News box on the home page is informative, but could be updated more regularly. However, as anyone with responsibility for updating website content can tell you, the more information you include the harder it is to keep it all current.

In all ways, the city’s website is far more complete and informative than Yamhill County’s platform, so we’re looking forward to the new county site. It would be great if the county takes a giant leap instead of just a small step in its flow of information.

Americans spend a great deal of time on the Internet these days and have become far more sophisticated at finding and returning to reliable sources of online information. It would behoove the county to bust open its online policy by giving department heads and others the ability to post information on the website.

As we have found with our own website, many people are just as capable as managers when it comes to posting current information online. Policies still can come from the top, but getting information to residents should be not delayed by unnecessary layers of administrative control.

In recent years, there has been an explosion of mobile content for smartphones and tablets, putting private and public sectors in a frenzy of how to cope with new technology. That’s for another day at Yamhill County, which for now will do well to update its old-looking website and establish modern policies for managing its online content.

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