D.C. Web site gets big makeover to ‘citizen-centric’

The District of Columbia’s revamped Web site has the same services as on its previous generation, but the packaging has changed considerably.

The focus of www.dc.gov is now citizen-centric as opposed to agency-centric, said Suzanne Peck, the city’s chief technology officer. Before, “you had to know which agency did what before you could find what you were looking for,” she said.

The new main search engine, from Ask Jeeves Inc. of Emeryville, Calif., turned up 1,231 hits for “How do I get a liquor license for my restaurant?” Washington’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration appeared first on the list.

For faster navigation through the leading topics, the new site uses SurveySolutions ranking software from Perseus Development Corp. of Braintree, Mass. The home page shows the top 10 subjects of residents’ searches.

For online forms management, the site uses LiquidOffice from Cardiff Software Inc. of Vista, Calif.

There are 103,000 pages on the new site, each with a red, white and blue banner at the top and a photo of Mayor Anthony Williams. If, for example, the mayor got a dramatically different haircut, Peck and her staff could download a new photo and change all the pages at once.

The graphics have become subtler, such as a watermark image of a family behind the text on the main page. The watermark changes with a click of the refresh button, showing one of 10 different families representing the city’s diverse demographics.

“We didn’t have to re-architect anything,” Peck said, except for changing the links and adding the search engine. The facelift took 120 days from start to finish, she said. City employees did all the work, and the project cost $350,000 “to do everything,” Peck said.

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