Politics Blog

New Whatcom County website is live; be prepared to get lost

I was surprised to find during my work-related Web browsing today that the Whatcom County government website, whatcomcounty.us (or, alternately, co.whatcom.wa.us), has a new format. I’ve written about this website makeover being in the works; it’s just that the go-live date was announced one week ago to be on Wednesday, March 11. That would put government at least two days ahead of schedule.

I’ve spent all of five minutes on the site, and I’ve run into a couple problems. Now these are problems for me, not necessarily for everybody, but still I don’t intend to use the Politics Blog as a soap box for my personal concerns over the county’s new website.

So, take note of these problems and see if they might apply to you:

Googling

One thing I do to quickly find a webpage I need is to google “whatcomcounty.us” followed by a phrase, for example, “comp plan update.”

Google brings up right at the top a link to the county’s page devoted to the 2016 comprehensive plan update.

Problem is, Google is showing the old link, which no longer works.

Bookmarks

I have bookmarked a couple county Web pages, specifically the County Council agenda and the Charter Review Commission home page. Both bookmarks no longer work; again, the URLs to these pages have been changed in the website makeover.

Sign-in required

I tried to enter a page through the following link:

A brief summary of preliminary draft staff-recommend amendments for each element of the Comprehensive Plan can be found here .

Clicking on the link, I was asked to sign in with a username and password, or with Yahoo! or Facebook. Obligingly, I opted to sign in with my Facebook account. But I wonder, why do I need to identify myself to access public information?

Who knows. Maybe everything is still in “beta” and will be all cleaned up by the announced March 11 go-live date. Given that I have already agreed to sign in, I suppose the county will know every time I’m on its website. A National Security Agency feature?

Feel free to post your opinions of the new county website in the comments.

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