I am in a project to re-design a city website and as city websites age there is starting to a a common vocabulary that surfaces. Common missions also bring up common tasks and functions that a website would have to handle. This part of the study was for city Facilities that are open to the public to use for leisure time. The most common English word I could come up with was parks. And Over 80% of the site agreed that if you were looking for a Park you would be in the division of the website called Parks and Recreation.
So I went to 250 different cities and ran a quick survey (I give the point system at the bottom) found that finding the pages that dealt with cities and leisure time ranged widely on the topics and systems that they had available. None off them were great I tried to find a grading system that would give me 100 point but I did not quite get there and the best site got a 62/91 which is 68.13% which would be a failing grade and I could have had 20 site that had a zero score.
Parks and Rec website often get put in the Web site Ghetto for a lot of city site. I would often have to do the search because there was no listings in the navigation for parks at all.
There often seemed to be a cultural bias easily spotted on ALOT of the sites. Urban sports over Rural sport when the city had both space. Rich white sports getting better stronger placement over other sports. There would be page upon page about how to golf in a city but nothing about soccer or night time basketball.
City Name score = 91points
- Arlington TX 62
- Long Beach 60
- Dayton OH 60
- Henderson NV 52
- Santa Rosa CA 50
- Anchorage AK 45
- Boise ID 45
- Portland OR, 45
- Denver 40
- Fort Wanye ID 38
- Alexandria VA 37
- Columbia MO 37
- Garland TX 35
- St Petersburg FL33
- Grand Praire TX 32
- Houston TX 32
- Lubbock TX 30
- Escondido CA 27
- Plano TX 25
- Albuquerque NM 24
- Tulsa OK 22
- Chandler AZ 21
- Gresham OR 19
- Hollywood FL 19
- Lexington KY 19
- Colubus OH 17
- Peoria AZ 17
- Salinas CA 17
- Torrance CA 17
- Fort Worth TX 16
- Philadelphia 16
- Boston 15
- Chattanooga TN 15
- Fort Collins, Co 15
- Jackson MS 15
- Cincinnati OH 14
- Montgomery AB 13
- Huntville AB 11
- Rockford IL 11
- Corpus Christi 10
- Kansas KA 10
- Waco 9
- Mcknney Tx 8
- Elgin Il 7
- Orange CA 7
- Salam OR 7
- Paterson NJ 5
- Huntington Beach CA 3
1-5 points depending on how hard it was to find from the main page
0. not on the front page.
1. three levels deep in a dept other than P and R
2. Not in the Department listing
3. in the Department listings but not called P and R
4. in department listing as Parks and Rec
5. listing on the front page
1-5 points depending on how well the site reacted to a searh for “parks”
1-5 for how well city branding carried over to the parks div
1-5 points for how well parks was branded
10 points for an online registration system
5 points for video that supported the mission
5 points for audio that supported the mission
2 points for facebook
2 points for twitter
5 points for date the content was created
10 points for interactive maping information
10 points for parks inventory/programs catalogs
2 points for RSS
10 points for a calendar based calendar (not a list of events)
10 points for Email Alerts.
up to -10 points if a 404, under construction or a Coming Soon Image.
- Brownsville TX 0
Whoa! great job with your research. Do you still have all those links and would it be possible to add them to your post? What a reference that could be.
Thanks again for your hard work with this… I have to say, I am surprised by some of the results.
This is a great resource that could be developed for evaluating any portion of a govt/public agency site. I think a lot of public agencies are struggling to transition their old Website to the new style and incorporate more Web 2.0 features. It is frustrating for those facing this challenge because there is not a lot of guidance available and little to no money in budgets right now for Website development.
Looking through your exercise above, here are some thoughts that come to mind that could perhaps help get these sites in better shape from a development viewpoint:
Govt agencies could benefit from a service – manual, survey based, or automated – that would evaluate all or a portion of their site in a manner similar to what you did above. (I wonder if there is a way to develop a survey incorporating your criteria that anyone could take for their site that would result in a score – perhaps someone on govloop could set this up and make it available on govloop.)
For many agencies, particularly local agencies, we already have the content on our old sites – we just need the format changed. It would be beneficial to have some basic templates developed that could be shared among agencies. I have been impressed by the flexibility and ease of use of Drupal (we only have to look at the Fed sites for an example). If only someone on Govloop could create some basic Drupal based templates that would fit a typical govt agency. Then we could offer them here for download. Drupal is set up to easily allow add-ins or plug-ins. Those could also be developed and incorporated as each agency saw fit.
I am aware of the WebContent.gov site which is also a great resource. But I only know about it from my interactions with all of you. Not sure how many govt. agencies are aware of that resource, but getting the word out about that site might also help. They have great training webinars and information.
Which brings me to the guidance part of the equation. I have been helping to teach a few webinars to parks and rec people about social media. From what I have seen there are many parks and rec agencies using social media, but there are still a great number trying to get more information and a better understanding of how to incorporate these tools into their offerings. Maybe a group of us could develop some “training” videos for social media or web site development and offer them through Govloop? I admit to being somewhat of a newbie in making videos, but I would be willing to help on the project. (I would be willing to help with webinars but with my new job I can only do them at night and on weekends which might not be the best time.)
Just some thoughts since all of us here need to offer similar information in a similar format. And by working together on a basic setup, maybe it would help make the difference in an agency improving their site.