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Lebanon County’s website has undergone a facelift.
The updated site went live in late February with other new functionality to be implemented through the end of 2023, according to Jamie Wolgemuth, chief clerk and county administrator, and Danielle Hogg, the county’s chief information officer.
The ultimate goal, according to Hogg, was to make the site more user-friendly.
“The site is mobile friendly and on all devices, it’s ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant, the site layout flows through all of the pages so that everything is uniform,” said Hogg. “Assistive devices will work with the system for our customers who have disabilities. Translation through Google Translate is also available so you can adjust to any language.”
Hogg said a major upgrade to happen by the end of the year is the inclusion of PDF fillable forms that will allow users to file forms online. Currently, a form must be printed and mailed or brought to the county building for submission to county officials.
“In the future, we’ll be able to have forms completed as submitted from the website,” said Hogg. “That’s functionality we never had before. We hope it’s live by the end of the year because there’s a lot of work to be performed to have it up and running.”
Visitors who come to lebanoncountypa.gov will encounter a revised homepage that has scrolling photos at the very top, county events listed on the upper half, and a listing of prominent programs called Featured Apps near the bottom half.
Featured Apps contains information from eight of the county’s most utilized services, including the county’s property and floodplain viewers, voter polling locations, addiction treatment programs and information about the county parks system.
Hogg said a user can input their home address on the search page and the map will display their voting district as well as their voting location by proper name and the address for the voting precinct.
“We probably get, I am not exaggerating, hundreds of calls on Election Day from people calling in saying, ‘I don’t know where I vote,’” said Wolgemuth. “And then we have to go through a two- to three-minute conversation looking up an address. When people catch on, we’ll just direct them to the website, saying, ‘It’s all there.’”
Last updated in 2017 when the software had reached its end of life, the new site has a more modern feel to it. (End of life for software typically occurs when a manufacturer decides to stop selling, supporting, and patching their hardware or software.)
“I believe it’s due to the functionality, the different layout options,” said Hogg, agreeing that the new site is more modern. “Some of the pages have roll-up menus. Where when you used to click on something, you went to a page and had all of the information on the screen. Rather than have all of the information in text just scrolled down on the screen, it’s rolled up, so it gives you a cleaner look and feel.”
Another top feature of the new site is the Contact Me form on some of the departmental pages that either go directly to the department head or to their administrative assistant. Hogg noted that each department was given the option to include or omit that feature.
“We added this feature partly because of turnover where you would constantly have to be changing the content on the site,” said Wolgemuth. Hogg added that the contact form eliminates the possibility of bots scraping the website to obtain email addresses for department personnel.
Six years after the last end-of-life event occurred, it happened again this year and is why the county is refreshing its site in 2023. Lebanon County’s website is hosted and maintained by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP), an organization in which it is a member.
“I guess we could have had a choice and say, ‘Thanks, CCAP, for years of hosting but we’re going to go somewhere else,’” said Wolgemuth. “But the investment to start over would have been significant compared to transitioning over to the new website that CCAP was offering.”
Wolgemuth said the site, which cost $12,118 to update, was paid through the county’s general fund. He added that the county pays $6,450 annually to CCAP for hosting and maintenance services.
“It wasn’t like we said, ‘Hey, it’s time to freshen up and we’re going to spend tens of thousands on a whole new look,’” said Wolgemuth. “From our perspective, this is a needed upgrade for our work.”
Hogg encouraged county residents to visit the new site since the information that’s there is for their edification and use.
“Explore the website, there’s a lot of good resources available,” she added.
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