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.
The new site, developed by a high-priced consultant, is considerably more simple. That's not really a problem because of the information on the old site wasn't really that useful. Enough said.
My perceptions of the requirements:
- Directory. It is designed primarily as a information device for local citizens. Primarily, it contains a directory of the people and services they need. Both the old and new websites provide a directory of personnel and offices.
- News: It should be a source of news about local events where county government is involved.
- Calendar: It should have a calendar of events including meetings.
- Documents: It should provide key documents that describe county policies and records of important meetings.
- Other Information. It should provide important information to businesses and people that want to move here, build here, or visit here.
In terms of usability, people like a website that loads quickly and allows them to find the information they need quickly. The appearance is of secondary importance, but looking good and being consistent helps.
The current website annoys me because of the paths it requires people to follow to find information. For example, assume that a developer wants a copy of the subdivision regulations or a view of the zoning map.
The top level menu provides five choices: About, Government, Departments, Calendar, and Resources. If I were a developer, I would have to make a guess about where to go next: Government or Departments? Checking Government takes me to information about the county commission and it doesn't look like it's a promising path.
The Departments option gives me five more choices: Mayor, Administration, Emergency Services, Law and Court Services, and Other. Again, I'm not sure, so I'm going to start following the menus down hoping to find something. Fortunately, I guessed Administration first. What I get then is a page of photographs of officials and their department names. Again, I can take my best guess, but I'm not looking for information on the person in a department. I just want a link to some documents to read. I'll have to prowl a bit hoping to find something, but so far I haven't seen any hint that such information might be available. Should I proceed; my patience is wearing thin.
Being a patient person, I finally follow the link for more information about the Building Inspector. That's the closest description of something that might be related. Oops, I found links to a "Cleanup Resolution" and a "Zoning Resolution." I don't care about resolutions, just regulations. I did discover a zoning map for the county, but I still don't know what the zones are about. Farther down the page is information about solid waste management. I doubt that the building inspector has any responsibility there.
I'm out of here. Bye.
The old site allowed someone to find documents from a menu on the home page. One or two clicks and the user could find almost everything on the site. As you can tell from the scenario about, that's not the case with the current design--and it has significantly less content with little help to guide people to find what they need.
My grade for the website: D. It sucks.
- Directory: F. Too hard to find detailed information.
- News: D. No dedicated page or set of pages for news. Therefore, there's little news displayed.
- Calendar: B. Not as comprehensive as the calendar on the previous site, but this is a standard website plugin that works well.
- Documents: F. Almost totally lacking.
- Other Information: C-. Adequate links to other websites, but some are missing. Even the local county public library is not listed.
- Overall appearance: B