Thursday, May 31, 2007

Makeover for

Users of (over 850,000 unique users per month) will discover a new look this morning. The biggest difference, however, is not in the look of the site, but in some of the features. The site features three prominent search options.

The first selection is a services search which is an AJAX-driven search of over 660 Utah state online services. We have also added a over a 120 local and federal services. From here, the user can go to this page where you can search all of these services by agency, by category, etc. The large number of distinct services dictated a different approach. I imagine we will continue to refine these options as the number of things that a citizen can do online continues to grow. For example, we may want to allow citizens to contribute tags, etc. Right now, the tagging and indexing is based to some degree on user activity, but is not as social as it might be.

The second search allows users to look for an agency and pull up a Google map of the department's location, etc. We will also continue to improve this service with additional enhancements.

The third search is the new Google custom search that we implemented in late April. I just checked and we have had over 194,000 searches performed in the first month.

We have added a multimedia portal branded Utah GovCast. This database-driven portal, just in its infancy right now, will allow users to browse the multimedia content produced by the State, including some very relevant content from the federal government and from Utah's colleges and universities in cooperation with State agencies.

There are several new sub-portals featured under the Explore Utah section that I would encourage you to look at, particularly the new Utah Travel portal and the new State Parks site. Thumb through the beautiful photo book on or checkout this mashup of state parks.

We really hope that all these enhancements will improve the user experience. I'd love to hear any comments.

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