• expanded mobile Web presence for iPhones and other mobile devices, including the addition of more than 20 new Web-based mobile apps;
  • use of proxy detection technology to present the portal in the best way -- Flash for those using a player, Flash-free for those who aren't, and a mobile version for those using a smartphone; and
  • interactive features such as clickable and zoomable maps, innovative data maps, custom search integrated throughout the site.

California typically overhauls its website once a year and launches a redesign prior to the Center for Digital Government's Best of the Web competition (an annual joint project of the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology -- both owned by e.Republic). Last year California earned second place in the state portal category, with Utah winning first place.

This redesign was mainly completed in-house by state workers, Takai said, but a contractor also aided the process at a cost of $90,000. The first half of the process involved data gathering and evaluating prototypes, which the state IT Council Executive Committee (a group of selected state agency CIOs) voted on. Focus groups, which consisted of people in and outside state government, were also brought in to give feedback, Takai said.

"It's very important to have that connection to who is going to be using your site," she said. "We didn't just decide with our tech people in a room, we had several different versions and took them to focus groups."

But with any online project, the work doesn't stop. Services and improvements to the site are added nearly every day, Takai said, and the site's list of features continues to grow. "Come this time next year, you can expect another new look and feel from us based on ... consumer, citizen and business demand," she said.

"We believe, just like the private sector does, that websites get dated and people like to see different things," Takai said. "We want to keep our site fresh, even from the standpoint of the visuals, so that people keep coming back to the site to get a different user experience."

A video tour of the new portal has been posted on California's YouTube channel.



Karen Wilkinson  | 

Karen is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.