By Joel Hall
The county's old, text-heavy web site recently got a visual face-lift.
The Clayton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) has gone online with a new web site, aimed at being more visual and easier to navigate. According to Clayton County Information Technology Director Brett Lavender, the new web site "went live" last Wednesday.
The web site -- www.claytoncountyga.gov -- Lavender said, is the result of several months of community surveys, as well as several meetings between county department heads and outside consultants.
"One of the things we focused on was ease of navigation," he said. "We want to get people to the information quicker, so that they don't have to click on the many pages that were on the previous site. Historically, what we have done is just list the information in the center of the page, and people just have to scroll down to the bottom [for information].
"It's [the new web site is] more visual and interactive," he said. "It tells the story of Clayton a little better."
Lavender said the new site contains all of the information available on the old site, with several new features that make it easier to access. Rather than listing departments in a long, single, pull-down tab, departments are organized into shorter categories. The front page features scrolling news information, a picture-viewer, and "Top Pages Visited" section that automatically creates hyperlinks to the most accessed areas of the site, based on user activity.
According to Lavender, the new site pays greater attention to economic development and tourism. The front page includes direct links to the county's project bid list, and criteria related to doing business with the county.
The "Discover Clayton" section identifies historical landmarks, highlights recreation and cultural activities, and provides descriptions for other important sites, such as Arts Clayton, the Georgia and National Archives, and the Road to Tara Museum.
In the first quarter of this year, Lavender said, the county's previous web site received an "A+" rating from the Sunshine Review, a non-profit organization dedicated to transparency in state and local government. To receive an A+ rating, he said, governments must post: Budget information; agendas and meeting information, prior to meetings; information about elected officials; phone numbers for administrative officials; audit reports; and information on making public records requests, among other requirements.
Clayton and Cobb counties are presently the only two counties in the state whose web sites have an A+ rating, he said.
BOC Vice Chairman Wole Ralph said the new site presents information to the public in a much friendlier way. "We really liked the old web site, but it was really static," said Ralph. "It was more like an information billboard. It [the new site] allows for streaming photos. It can flush out details in a lot more vivid way.
"It takes our web site, and does what we are trying to do all over the county, which is make government more open and accessible to citizens," he said.
Ralph said the web site's increased attention to business and tourism will help people learn more about activities in Clayton, thus helping them become "the best advocates for the county."
Lavender said the county is continuing to survey the public about the site, with the goal of making more improvements. Citizens can access the survey by visiting the "News and Information" section on the front page of the site, and clicking on the "We Want Your Feedback" link.