- The New LawtonOK.gov
The New LawtonOK.gov
After months of Development, the City of Lawton is thrilled to announce the launch of our new website. lawtonok.gov is going to be replacing our old website www.cityof.lawton.ok.us. The new website has been fully designed, coded and tested in-house by the City of Lawton’s IT Division.
There are many new features and services that would also be launching in the upcoming weeks on the new lawtonok.gov.
How Did We Start?
The initial start of the new website included a fact-finding survey that the IT division created to figure out what was important to residents and city employees. 191 residents and employees completed the web survey and offered suggestions and ideas to the City of Lawton’s IT Division. An integral part of the new website was to ensure that it is user friendly for residents and employees, easy to navigate and mobile friendly. Mobile devices are predominantly becoming the de-facto method of browsing the internet; with that consideration in mind, the IT division decided to adopt a mobile-first methodology. In choosing a mobile-first approach, we decided to utilize some of the most cutting edge and responsive website frameworks available. Along with the decision to go mobile-first, we also made the decision to build the website using the best open-source technologies available.
How Did We Respond?
After tallying and meticulously analyzing the survey results, we started designing the website based on the most requested features. The following are some of the survey responses and the features that we built in response to the feedback that were provided:
Survey Response: Contact information is sadly lacking: Citizens should be able to quickly find contact information for ALL department heads and supervisors. All departments and divisions also should be available on the site, to explain what they do for citizens.
Our Response: Staff Directory
We’ve built a staff directory that contains contact information for all Directors and Superintendents, in addition to other persons of interest within the city. https://lawtonok.gov/directory
Our Response: Department Pages
Each Department, Division, Board, Committee, Trust and all other relevant city organizations have the ability to create a standardized homepage with an easily recognized structure. We’ve given city entities the ability to create unique home pages whilst maintaining an expected level of consistency throughout the website. https://lawtonok.gov/departments
Survey Response: Change the website name. who has three .(periods) in the middle of a website name?
Our Response: New Domain Name
The current website address cityof.lawton.ok.us has been renamed to lawtonok.gov. This rename has definitely been well received and is one of the ways we are making things easier and more standardized for the residents and employees of the City of Lawton. Migrating to a .gov domain name also ensures that the City of Lawton follows and adopts the best practices for US. State, Federal, City and County website addresses. With the migration to a .gov domain name, we’ve instantly made the website more official and easily identifiable as the official source of information for Lawton. One major benefit of .gov addresses is that they can only be purchased by official government entities.
Survey Response: Well on previous occasions trying to browse this website on tablets or phones is literally impossible. It just does not work like most other sites. Everything in this website squishes when used on small screens. I can get my events and agenda information perfectly fine when using a desktop computer.
Our Response: Mobile-first & Responsive
When the website was first designed, mobile devices were only used to make or receive phone calls. Fast forward 10 years later and everything has changed; phones, tablets and other mobile devices are the primary means of connecting to the internet. We’re living in a fast paced world where information needs to be accessed quickly, efficiently and on any device. We’ve taken all those variables into consideration and have designed a website that can be used on the majority of modern mobile, tablet and desktop devices. “Responsive web design” and is it commonly called, is a way of automatically transforming information into multiple different formats based on the screen size of a device. In our case, our website would automatically resize based on the screen size in use and would display smaller images on phones and tablets. The concept of automatically resizing images and other media elements allows us to deliver information faster to mobile devices with slower connections.
Other Improved Features
A major purpose of any government website is for the dissemination of information. All City Departments now have the ability to publish news stories. This was a must-have feature and was one of our top requests.
Social Media Center
Social Networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and a host of others have definitely taken the world by storm. In response to the modernization of our society, many Departments within the City have adopted Facebook and other Social Networks as a way of promoting their services, disseminating information and serving our residents. Our Social Media page contains links to all official city profiles.
Who doesn’t like knowing what’s happening? The new events page on the City’s website would allow departments and other city organizations the ability to post events to the City’s calendar. Departments would also be able to embed, posters, videos, maps and other interactive elements on their event pages.
Meetings & Agendas
All Meetings and Documents can now be found on one page. Each meeting contains information about the time/date, address/place, agendas and minutes once available. If available, Meeting Bodies can also post a video recording of the meeting.
Our navigational structure has been updated and is now easier than ever to use. Our top level pages are Home | Government | Departments | Services | Newsroom| Enjoy Lawton.
- The Home menu link is obviously the homepage; it’s a standard feature on most websites that allows users to go back to the homepage; clicking the logo also takes you back to the homepage.
- The Government menu link contains information about everything related to general government proceedings in the city. Find information about Boards & Committees, City Code, Meetings, City Manager, City Clerk etc.
- The Departments menu link is a directory page that lists all Departments and Divisions within the City. Each Department/Division has the ability to create its own website with custom menu links.
- The Services menu link is a directory page that gives Residents, Businesses and other stakeholders the ability to search for and view the many services that city agencies provide.
- The Newsroom menu link gives website users the ability to look at the latest Alerts, Publications, Meetings, Events and News in the city. This page is essentially the hub for all new and updated information.
- The Enjoy Lawton link -- to come -- will be an interactive page with links to information about Lawton’s History, Geography, Statistical Data and a host of other need-to-knows.
We’ve designed a central publications directory that would be used to host published documents for all departments and divisions. Publications are typically date-stamped and are not updated once they have been officially published. Some advantages of the publications directory include a central hub for newsletters, case studies, reports and other frequently accessed documents. Website users can browse the latest publications by all Departments and Departments can optionally feature different publications on their websites.
The Places directory is a listing of all official City Locations, Offices, Parks, Recreational Centers and other “places of interest” around the city. An Interactive Google map is added to all Places to give residents access to some of Google’s top mapping features.
A new service directory has been created to catalog and organize all the services and programs that are offered by the City. Each service can add to multiple categories to assist residents in finding the information that they need, easily and quickly. Using this new approach, all of the city’s services would be categorized by audience, department/division and by category.
A major part of the new website was giving all Departments and Divisions the ability to easily edit and create web pages without needing to know any technical knowledge. Each Department can now have a primary and secondary content editor that can keep their informational pages up to date. Departments won't need to purchase licenses or buy any special software to create and build Webpages
The IT department has designed and implemented many widgets that non-technical content editors can use to create complex, multi-device web pages. These widgets give Departments the ability to add, modify and rearrange elements on their WebPages easily and with no code involved. Each widget is designed to work on mobile, tablet and desktop computers. Widgets are basically structural website patterns that can be used to layout WebPages in different ways. Some of our widgets includes:
An Improved Homepage
One of the most requested changes was the homepage. The majority of survey respondents did not like the old homepage and requested that we improve the structure. With that in mind, we decided to feature the most important services prominently on the homepage and have taken a “Service First” approach to the homepage. Lower down on the homepage Residents would easily be able to find the latest news, events, alerts and government meetings.
Accessibility is one of the hottest topics in government web design at the moment and we’re adamantly eating a piece of the pie. There would be many accessibility improvements on the website and we would be constantly testing and improving the accessibility of our services.
We’re aiming to be Section 508 compliant whilst following the more internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) technical standard. In our attempt to make accessibility a first-class citizen on the city’s website, “Alternative Text” is one of our mandatory requirements for improving how residents with sight deficiencies interact with the website. In the advent of a user being unable to see an image because of sight deficiencies or slow internet connections, the Alternative Text provides a description of the image. We’ll also be ensuring that our website structure is logical and can be fully navigated using keyboard and other input devices. Some of the tools that we would be using to validate the accessibility of our WebPages includes the WAVE(Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool), Color Contrast Checker by WebAim and lots of other open standards tools.
We’ve decided to respect the past but look forwards to the future by ensuring that all elements on the website follow the latest HTML 5 specifications. By forging ahead with the new HTML 5 standards, we would be dropping support for old and unsupported browsers whilst focusing on future-proofing the website with the latest technologies.
The City of Lawton’s new website would be fully supported on the latest web browsers and would include many fallback techniques for critical services. We would ensure that all major functionalities work on the most used browsers. We have full support for Internet Explorer 10, 11 and Edge on Windows 7 devices, the last two versions of Chrome and Firefox and the latest two editions of Safari on the Mac. A lot of our website decisions would be based on the devices that the majority of our residents are using.
We would be tracking all pages using Google Analytics and a custom statistics module on our website. The tracking results from Google would help us improve our most viewed pages and is also a good way of validating the work we’re doing to improve Lawton’s online presence. Unused pages would be removed or repurposed in order to ensure that all content are up to date and relevant.
These are just some of the features and the enhancements that are currently on the new and improved lawtonok.gov. We are constantly and continuously adding improvements to the website and would ensure that we continue to follow and adopt the newest best practices.