A major update to Cook County’s main website, unveiled today, will enable visitors to www.cookcountyil.gov to more easily connect with the County services they need, said County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
“Government websites have a reputation for not being very user friendly,” Preckwinkle said. “With our new website we put the user first.”
The old school way of designing government websites was to build an online copy of what existed in the physical world – a page for each office, agency and elected official. The new County website still has these pages, but its focus is on the services the County provides. With sections focused on residents, businesses and numerous subcategories, Cook County aims to simplify the process and connect residents as quickly and easily as possible.
The new website is based on the open-sourced Drupal platform, which is used extensively in the federal and state websites. It is designed to scale for any sized screen, which means it works just as well on a smartphone as it does on a desktop computer.
Cook County used Smart Chicago’s Civic User Testing Group (CUT Group) to test different ways of organizing the site during the design phase. The results should reduce the amount of searching visitors need to do to find what they want.
The content management system that County employees use to populate the site is also designed to be user friendly, which lets the employees of each department maintain their own areas and make quick updates.