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Review of Dickson County, TN, Website

Among rural counties around Nashville, Dickson County is progressive and rapidly growing. The county's website reflects that trend. It is clear that the home page was designed to address the needs of both the community and those that might look to visit or located there.

High quality background images provide a visual image of the county as relevant text messages inform users of pertinent information. The home page has a brief introduction about the county and clear, easy to find links to critical services like economic development, a calendar, and a guide to contacting county officials. There are photo-based links to the most significant area attractions. Finally, there are links on the home page to other imporant websites that visitors to the site might be looking for.

Beyond the home page and accessible from a main menu, the site structure branches into well-ordered options to explore the local county government and offices, the county commission and their operations, schools, additional area information, and the online services that are available. Pretty much everything is available within three mouse clicks. That's impressive.

In terms of performance, the site does better than most government websites. Pingdom rates the site as a "B" with a load time of 677ms. That's fast. Likewise other performance measuring tools also show better than average performance.

  • Directory: B. So fast and easy to use, but not all county offices are listed separately under the government menu option and are listed on a page with blocks of text for smaller offices. People would have to know that some offices are assigned to the mayor's listing.
  • News: B+. Although the site does not have a separate menu option for local news, pertinent topics are displayed on the home page.
  • Calendar: C. An interactive calendar is linked from the bottom of the home page where it may not be as visible as some other sites would have it. It also renders an error message stating that I may not have all the permissions needed to view the content. It is relatively scant in the content I could see.
  • Documents: C. My first impressions were that documents would be easily found, but that was not to be. The links to planning and zoning documents were buried under a rather plain document related to the mayor's office. 
  • Other Information: A. The website provides additional information about the county and provides links to other websites that are closely related.
  • Overall appearance: A+. It has very attractive photographs and a pleasing layout.
  • Performance. A. In practical terms, I disagree with some of the online performance tools. This site performs well.

My overall assessment? I wanted to give the site an "A" based on first impressions, but a couple of issues bothered me. They could be fixed rather easily, in my opinion. My grade: B.

How to Seriously Mess Up Your Website

It's a given that the advice given to most organizations, government entities, and businesses is that they must have a website. It's true. Especially during the pandemic of Covid-19, the Internet has become almost the defacto way to shop and find information. 

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Review of Perry County, TN Website

The website for Perry County, TN, is a relatively new implementation developed by a friend of mine who also works in the Joomla environment, Pat Vandenbosh. She labels herself as a designer, and I know she had extensive training in software development and graphics design. I like her work, but I'll still give a fair review to her work. 

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Review of the Hickman County, TN Website

Okay, up-front I'll admit to having some extra motives for my review. I developed and maintained the previous version of the county's website for several years. 

You can still see the old version on the Internet's archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20200129063808/https://www.hickmancountytn.com/. It was a fairly comprehensive design that was close in content to the original site first developed in Microsoft's FrontPage back in the late 1990s. I had added some additional GIS related data to the site.

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Why I Bailed On WordPress

I had good intentions to set up a website with WordPress. I've been developing websites since the late 1990s, so it's not my first rodeo. In fact, I created a prototype content management system before they were even commercially available. It worked. I figured that because WordPress is so popular, I should have no problems.

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