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West Virginia Portal Re-Design Is User-Centric, User-Friendly

West Virginia's third portal refresh in seven years bears all the marks of today's generation of websites.

On Feb. 13, West Virginia launched its refreshed website, the state's third redesign since 2008.

As an NIC member, the state worked with NIC subsidiary West Virginia interactive to launch the site through NIC’s enterprise portal program. Officials said the redesign took about six months, and the result was a new design that’s easier to use and more user-centric.

The new design include such features as an improved search function, responsive design for easy viewing on all types of devices, a central news feed, and a social media index that puts each agency’s social media feeds available at a glance.
For both aesthetic and technical reasons, it was time for an upgrade, said Chief Technology Officer Gale Given. “From a technical standpoint, I think mobile is really the important point. Twelve percent of our traffic is now from mobile devices, and that’s a 68 percent increase in 2014 since 2013, so clearly the portal needs to accommodate our increasing mobile users,” she said. “As far as aesthetics, it’s always just good to make sure we’re keeping up with the look of good Web design and making it easier for our users to use. And it is easier.”
West Virginia Interactive General Manager Ian McQuinn said that working with the state was relatively easy, but they still faced challenges. 
“The biggest challenge is just to make sure that all agencies’ resources are well-represented,” he said. “Across all of state government, there are so many different ways that people interact with state government that we just had to make sure everything was easy to find and  well represented.”
The state has prominently featured its most-used services, and NIC and the state worked together and made a heavy use of analytics to determine what the focuses should be, McQuinn said. Nine “top resources” categories are centered in the new design, while top searches like Jobs, DMV, Tourism and Lottery are found as links beneath the search bar.
The technologies used to build the site included Twitter’s bootstrap and JQuery, McQuinn added.
Given said she especially enjoyed the new design’s heavy use of photography that showcases the state’s landscapes. “It’s a beautiful state,” she said.
Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.