September 30, 2009 By Matt Williams
Arizona's public-facing Web site hadn't seen a major overhaul since 2000 -- a near eternity in the fast-paced world of Web development. That finally changed in mid-September when the state launched its redesigned AZ.gov.
Arizona CIO Chad Kirkpatrick told Government Technology this week that the new design was made to be more citizen friendly and easier for businesses to work with the state. Arizona's Web services are self-funded by transactional "portal fees" managed by vendor NIC, which also partnered with Arizona to build the new Web site.
The long-standing version of AZ.gov and the state agencies and departments included within didn't have a standard look and style to their Web pages. This will change, Kirkpatrick said, as the state is moving most state agencies to a template that will give them a consistent design and color scheme.
"Really it came down to the professionalism and navigation features -- where things are located -- to get that consistency across the state. Ultimately nowadays the site is really our first impression for our customers and the citizens of Arizona," said Kirkpatrick, a former Wells Fargo executive who became state CIO in March 2009 and is also director of the state's Government Information Technology Agency (GITA).
The redesign is the first step in creating a statewide enterprise content management system, he said. It's already happening in limited form: The new AZ.gov features a shared calendar on the main page that allows liaisons from the individual agencies to add content directly via Adobe Content onto the Web site. In the future, the state will also add Web 2.0 features to the page, but the state is mostly holding off for now.
"We've been on this process of building governance around social networking and some other concepts, and so at GITA we decided we would start being the guinea pigs for the state," Kirkpatrick said. The agency has been tweeting and posting YouTube videos as a test case. Gov. Jan Brewer's office ultimately will decide when to implement Web 2.0 features statewide.
But Kirkpatrick said that really is only the easy stuff. He said his agenda for 2010 might include building a "wiki government" Web presence that would facilitate cooperative work among citizens and government employees, as well as an Apps for Arizona venture -- an emulation of Washington, D.C.'s twice-run Apps for Democracy contest that awards prize money to citizens who develop open source applications that integrate government data.
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