By Frank Stehno
“I’m on DEQ’s Web site. I can’t find what I need.”
In 2013, we had over 3 million page views. Our most visited page, Current Air Conditions, gets over 30,000 views per month. Yet we often hear, “Why can’t you put a link to [fill in almost any topic] on your home page so I don’t have to dig for it?”
When we visit web sites, whether it’s for the first time or the 20th, we want to locate information in the fewest clicks. We know, or suspect, that the information is there somewhere, but we don’t want to go digging for it. And for sure, we don’t want to think about site navigation. What we want is our link right there in front of us. After all, cyberspace is supposed to be fast, fast, fast. Why else pay big bucks for the latest tech and broadband service? Boom. I’m on the DEQ site. My link should pop out. I’m in a hurry. I need it now. RIGHT NOW.
Unfortunately, government sites are too often more like the tortoise than the hare.
Visitors often don’t realize that government sites are different beasts from their smaller, commercial cousins with 100 or 200 glittering pages. Government sites tend to be larger, deeper, and often more complex, heavy with an array of valuable information.
Consider this: DEQ’s 6,000 pages – linked to nearly 32,000 documents and images – contain a virtual mother lode of data:
- required forms
- laws and rules
- permitting assistance
- contact lists
- meeting and comment period notices
- educational information
And much, much more. Just to provide some perspective: a large government site contains from 500 to 1,000 Web pages; a huge one has between 1,000 and 5,000 pages. At 6,000 pages, DEQ’s site is mega.
So organizing navigation and presenting our treasure so all our visitors can locate the nuggets they seek quickly is our main challenge. We’re working toward that and are in the midst of a major reorganization , the first step toward an enhanced navigation system. We’ll never be able to present all 6,000 links on our home page, but we’re working toward a system we hope will get our visitors to [fill in almost any topic] in a satisfactory number of clicks.
Just be patient, please.
And we apologize for the cyberdust.
Please visit our Web site, and feel free to contact me, the DEQ Web Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am in my 18th year with the State and am the Web Manager for DEQ. I have enjoyed an eclectic career, spending most of the 1970s as an Arts Administrator, the 1980s in Exploration Geology, the 1990s as a Desktop Publisher and Graphic Designer, and the 21st Century (so far) as a Technical Writer and Web Specialist. I am a published poet and author of short fiction and personal essays and have written three novels. In my spare time, my wife Anne and I travel, hike, and photograph rock art in canyon country.