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More Than a Face-Lift: New Site for Maryland

A new portal offers Maryland residents responsive design, nearly 200 online services and integrated social media intended to maximize citizen engagement.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley unveiled a new state website on March 4, representing a major overhaul for the portal. The new site, developed by the Department of Information and Technology (DoIT) along with e-government contractor NIC Maryland, features 175 online services, context-driven social media and GIS-based tools aimed at engaging citizens with content that's most relevant to them.

The site's design is responsive, meaning it will detect the device being used to access it, and adjust the way content displays accordingly. Responsive design, gaining ground in the Web design industry, keeps smartphone and tablet users from having to scroll to access content laid out with full-screen viewing in mind.   

The "Near You" interactive mapping feature leverages GIS tools to plot government offices closest to the site visitor, and point out state parks that are nearby. In addition, it displays wait times at nearby Motor Vehicle Administration offices.

"By leveraging the latest digital portal technologies, we are able to offer our constituents a wider array of communications channels and content with which to engage their state government," said DoIT Secretary Elliott Schlanger in a press release. "This is much, much more than a face-lift to"

According to officials, decisions on the design of the new portal were fueled by a combination of industry best practices, search data, feedback and input obtained from focus groups. State officials report that a second phase of the redesigned site will go live in the coming months, which will include more content and additional features.

Noelle Knell has been the editor of Government Technology magazine for e.Republic since 2015. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.