When Democrats gained control of The New York State Senate for the first time in over 50 years, they also gained control of the outdated, inadequate website. The New York State Senate's groundbreaking new media team, led by CIO and Drupal guru Andrew Hoppin, partnered with Advomatic to conquer the onerous task of redeveloping and redesigning its website. The recently launched NYSenate.gov is a 21st century government website, designed to serve its citizens first, instead of political interests, thanks to fresh designs, open data and web 2.0 content.
The previous version of the New York State Senate (NYSS) website had a clunky design, lacked information and was created with Republican interests in mind. The "Find My Senator" search on the old website included only a district map and zip code lookup. Zip codes alone are not sufficient, many zip codes are split across districts.
NYSS asked Advomatic to develop a website so that administrators could easily create (and remove) Senator websites after elections. The back-end of the website needed to allow for easy content creation. Senate staffers with varying levels of CMS familiarity were to be responsible for writing blog posts, adding multimedia and uploading press releases.
Jack and Amanda delivered. The designs were completed in record time, including over 10 revisions of the home page and Senator pages. The design reflects the unconventional approach to a government website, yet still retains the authority of a legislative body. Rotating image headers reflect New York's geographic diversity. Democrat and Republican Senator websites have different color schemes, but the same layout and functionality. The design is easy to navigate and friendly to constituents, press and Senate staff.
Using database queries we developed for the Click-to-Call tool, NYSenate.gov uses address and zip code data to look up Senate districts. The results page following a zip code lookup offers further information, and not just Senator names and district numbers. Individual Senator websites include a variety of web 2.0 tools for the Senators to communicate with constituents, including social media links, RSS feeds, blogs and multimedia galleries. Multimedia integration throughout the site is powered by Advomatic developer Aaron Winborn's various multimedia modules.
The structure and content of the site is organized to spotlight open data, a big step in the greater government 2.0 and transparency movement. Individual Senator pages list all legislation introduced and sponsored, with data pulled directly from the main database. Committee pages display much more information, including news updates, video of sessions and hearing calendars. The NYSenate.gov homepage aggregates blog posts, data and media from all Senator websites, through a carefully architected system of content types and taxonomies. NYSS Staff can add and remove Senators through Drupal's administrative interface, without outside developer assistance.
Advomatic is proud to be a part of the open government movement and hopes other state legislatures follow in New York State Senate's footsteps. Thanks to EchoDitto who was responsible for the early project management and first draft of wireframes/specifications.
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