By Matt Kinshella
You deserve the freedom to do what you need to do for yourself, your family or for clients. At DCHS, our website and how we communicate with you is a big part of that goal.
To kick off 2017, we took a first step to making our website easier to use. We want you to get the phone number, email or information you need quickly and easily. Here are some of the steps we took:
- We reorganized and re-wrote the majority of pages on the DCHS part of the website - most notably the home page.
- We made contact information easier to find.
- We focused on the services you need, not on the divisional structures within our organization.
- We carved out a special place on the site for partners of DCHS because the needs of the public and our partners are quite different.
We also launched a blog (what you’re reading now), Facebook, Twitter, a YouTube channel and a new way for you to get email updates from us.
We know people spend a lot more time in email or on social media than they spend on our site. So, it makes sense that we deliver information to you where you spend most of your online time.
Most of all, we aim to serve and support you. We aim to be open with you. We will be consistent, while experimenting. We’ll be here to take your feedback. Please let us know what you think.
Getting to know the website changes
The website should help you understand services, how to access those services and who to contact.
Our work ranges across the lifespan. It includes kids, families, older residents, people with disabilities, Veterans and more. We also partner with more than 100 Multnomah County nonprofit organizations.
Here’s how we can help you navigate all that.
New “Home page”
We simplified the home page so that you can get to the information that is relevant to you. We added new icons and colors. We simplified section descriptions. We removed the news updates section because it wasn’t being used much.
Easier to find contact information
Additionally, we added “quick links” on the home page. These are your go-to numbers for accessing a range of county services. We also grouped our contact information.
The main pages for each of our services should have clear contact information.
For instance, look at our Aging and Disability page. It has the ADRC hotline and Abuse Hotline prominently displayed. Please let us know if there are numbers you need that you can’t find and we’ll work on it.
Focus on services, not just divisions
We have some new sections on the home page for energy and weatherization, domestic and sexual violence, housing and food. We made our services for Veterans easier to find as well as our culturally-specific services through Bienestar de la Familia.
We focused on the services you need, not on the divisional structures within our organization.
A place for partners
Lastly, we created a special section for all our nonprofit and private partners. Before, information for a person seeking services and information for a case worker was mixed.
Now, the public has a clear understanding of what we can offer them. And our partners have an easy place to go for the forms, research, and information that they need most.
A more accessible website
We have also been working hard with our colleagues to make sure the site is accessible for people of all abilities. We still have room for learning and improvement, but it is a good first step.
We are also looking to improve our website for people for whom English is a second language or people who don’t speak English. For now, people can select the Google translate button at the top right corner of the site. But we know that is just a first step.We hope these changes are helpful. We’ll be getting feedback from the public and constantly adjusting. This is only the beginning.
Connecting with us on social media
Another change we are making is broadening the ways we communicate. Chances are that you received this post via email or on social media.
Just like our new website, our social media will aim to be useful. We hope to answer the questions you have about our services. We also hope to provide you with answers you didn’t think to ask. Time and again people say it is difficult to know what the various service offerings are and how to access them. We’re hoping to change that in part with the various new ways we have to communicate with you.
Here are five ways our social media could be helpful
Subscribing to our email updates for the best information. We’re bundling the most useful and timely information for the public and partners in our emails. They will be of varying lengths and cover different topics. We’ll only send them when we have something important to say. And when you subscribe you can pick the topics you’re interested in so that you don’t get information that you don’t care about.
Get tips and event updates on Facebook. There are a variety of ways we can be of use to you, your neighbors or the causes you care about. There are also a variety of events happening that you might be interested in.
Visit Twitter for the latest news - Twitter is a great place for news, emergency updates, and sharing the work of our partners. We’ll be doing those things on Facebook and email a little bit too - but the breaking news will likely be on Twitter.
YouTube for How-To videos and announcements - Many of us have turned to YouTube for a how-to video about cooking, fixing something around the house or for a product review. DCHS wants to provide these kinds of videos for our services. If you go to our channel right now you can see some great training video for nonprofits and a feature about how to get your home weatherized.
Once-a-week updates on the key things on the blog - Just like this post, we’ll be posting updates about our work and services for you. The posts will be visual and probably longer than how we’re communicating with you on Twitter or Facebook. You’ll get blog posts delivered via email and hopefully you might see some when you search in Google.
What are your thoughts about the latest website features? Are you interested to visiting out our social media channels? What topics should we be covering moving forward?
Share your thoughts directly via email or socially on Facebook and Twitter.