A new website is helping residents stay more informed and better connected with elected officials in Sacramento County, Calif.

Launched on Nov. 28, the county’s redesigned Web presence features streamlined drop-down navigation, a rotating photo and information marquee and a new application that takes citizens directly to their county supervisor’s website by entering their home address.

The functionality of the new site isn’t novel, but according to county CIO Rami Zakaria it was a much needed refresh to the county’s former website, which was text-heavy and cumbersome to use. The goal with the new one was to provide residents with a better user experience.

“The emphasis this time was to bring everything up one step further, to clean up the clutter and make navigation easier and more meaningful,” Zakaria explained.

Zakaria said this was the at least the third time since 2000 that Sacramento County had redone its website. The current website was built entirely by county staff and took about two months to complete. Websites for all the county supervisors and county departments will be refreshed with the new template in the coming months.

One of the other priorities with this particular Web portal refresh was to highlight the different facets of the county. That led to the use of the new photo marquee.

The rotating slideshow currently displays imagery from the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Sacramento International Airport, local wineries and various other landmarks in the area. Zakaria credited Sacramento County Executive Brad Hudson for his vision behind what the county’s Web portal should focus on.

Photo: Sacramento County's old website.

“He wanted a more dynamic look to show what the county has to offer,” Zakaria said. “We are government, but we … serve the county and the region too, so we wanted to show what the region is about.”

One of the site’s useful new functions is the ability for county residents to look up their local supervisor. The application, called “Who is My Supervisor,” allows a user to put in a street address and immediately call up who the county supervisor is for that address, the supervisor’s contact information and what district that official represents.

Looking Ahead

More access to elected representatives and information is something Zakaria said the county plans to build on. Sacramento County will be launching a GIS-based Web application in the near future that will give users details on all their elected officials for a specific location.

If a person resides in a city in Sacramento County and uses the Web app, he or she will be able to immediately retrieve who their city, county and congressional representatives are, along with contact information. In addition, the application will provide information on users’ properties, their water districts and their school districts.

Another potential development for Sacramento County’s website is a unified 311 system. Although only in the initial planning stages, Zakaria said the county would explore the idea in 2012. He expects a 311 Internet portal to be a keystone of that project if it moves toward implementation.

“It’s just an initiative on our part to increase visibility into how we serve our residents and organizations that provide direct services to them based on where they live,” Zakaria said.

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1999, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.