Wolcott Redesign

Once I got settled in our new home in Vermont, I went down to the town offices and introduced myself. I met Kurt Klein, the Town of Wolcott project manager, and told him I was here indefinitely and one of the main things I could do for them was build them a new website.

We spoke about many things and one of them was obviously how their old website was in desperate need of an update. The Town needed a strategy and the support to design, develop, and maintain the website with optimum performance, empathetic touchpoints, and the agility to easily iterate and elevate content important to their audiences and departmental needs.

Old site

New site

⋆♪ This is how we do it ♫⋆

The Town’s main concern was improving the overall user experience, and reduce the need for close contact between the Town Office and Wolcott residents in the Covid era—while also enabling the Town Office to continue its business in times of closure.

Together with Kurt, we developed a list of “Objectives and Key Results”—OKRs are an effective way to communicate what we want to accomplish and what milestones we’ll need to meet in order to accomplish them (e.g., objective: “we’re going to upgrade the existing Wolcott VT website,” key result: “the website works better for our audiences”).

Here’s what we came up with to address the primary objectives in the current web system build, along with the set of metrics that would allow us to measure the achievement of each objective (i.e., key result):

  • Perform a content audit—a comprehensive review of our media, pages, and posts removes out-dated, duplicative content that is detrimental to the user experience (UX).
  • Build a better search—resolve the issues users are having when attempting to locate content on the website (e.g., searching for a “building permit” finds you a building permit).
  • Enhancing the accuracy of the search result—when content is found, there is clarity in ascertaining the exactness of the search result (e.g., easily determine that this is the correct and current building permit I need).
  • Fixing any broken links and creating a custom 404 page—we don’t leave our audience stranded on an island; no more sending people to dead ends, and if they do find themselves lost we create a page to help guide them to shore.
  • Applying an aesthetic redesign—we build a contemporary web system that is intuitive so that our audience feels confident in its intention.
  • Simplify common workflows—we make it easier to perform tasks by the Town Office by reviewing and redeveloping certain elements of the web system’s functionality (e.g., adding agendas; adding events and special announcements to the homepage).
  • Make PDFs more accessible—many of the PDFs are images of forms, we’ll convert these “image PDFs” to “text-based” PDFs (i.e., the language within will become searchable); in addition, while still offering a PDF download, whenever possible, we will convert applications from a standard PDF to a secure, online webform.

Simple when you know how.

In the end, Kurt and the Town were very happy with the result and, for the most part, I am too. There’s still a lot of work to be done improving the website and the Town is excited as more committees and departments are being made aware that this new website is now capable of fulfilling a lot of their thoughts and desires.

One of the big game changers for me when rebuilding or creating a website, is that I’m able to build it in “my shop” (and I know everything about my shop). So when people ask me “where is this?” or “can we do that?—I always have an answer or a solution for them and that makes me pretty damn happy.