County's Web site to be upgraded to improve efficiency

Makeover intended to provide easy access for Internet users

July 27, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Carroll's site on the World Wide Web is a local favorite, offering a wealth of information at the click of a mouse button, but county information specialists believe it can be improved.

They're tinkering with the Web site, updating the information that is available to the public. After those changes are made, they will begin making the site more user-friendly.

When the experts complete the makeover, the site probably won't have a lot of complex graphics, but visitors might be able to apply for a county job or pay their water bill.

"Our focus is to make the site fast and efficient," Steven Powell, county budget director, told the commissioners this week. "We're hoping to have things organized by service, so if you want to pay your water bill you'll be able to click on a button and get to a secure site where you can do that."

Throughout the state, jurisdictions are creating Web sites. Baltimore City and every county in the Baltimore metropolitan region are on the Web with home pages, a single screen that leads visitors to areas of interest.

Maryland government boasts a Web site, providing home pages for Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

In the five years that Carroll has had a presence on the Internet, the number of people looking at its site has grown phenomenally.

During the month that it made its debut, April 1995, only a few dozen people visited the site. Today, it attracts about 30,000 visitors each month.

Changes in scheduled meeting times or to the county commissioners' agenda are put on the Web as soon as the public information office is notified of the change - often within five minutes.

The proposed format changes are intended to provide easier access to information on subjects ranging from agriculture and business to education and the public library.

"The site was originally designed for access by department, which can be confusing for visitors if they don't know which department has the information they need in," said Mark Ripper, telecommunications manager for the county.

"Under the new format, people will also be able to get information by service, so if they need information on how to apply for a building permit, they can click on permits rather than trying to guess which department handles those requests."

The redesigned site is expected to make its debut in the fall. Ripper said the information specialists plan to give the commissioners a look at proposed changes next month.

Carroll County's address is www.carr.org.

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