Q&A with Michael Archer, Communications Coordinator of Saddle Hills County

SADDLE HILLS COUNTY WEBSITE TEAM: Standing, from left, Chase Coli and James Britcliffe and Michael Archer, seated.

Why did Saddle Hills County decide to build a new website?
Council wanted residents as well as industry and business to be able to communicate more effectively with the County. Government websites have changed a lot in the past five years, and Council decided that a more user-friendly website was in the best interest of everyone who uses the County website.

What features make the new website stand out?
The new website is driven by a powerful search engine, which is designed to take the user directly to the most fitting page for the keywords they type into the Search Bar on the home page.

That’s why the main thing you see when you get to the new website is the Search Bar, which asks you, “What are you looking for?” Users simply type in whatever service or information they are looking for, and the search engine will find the appropriate result.

While the search engine is not foolproof, it is much more effective than search engines have been on municipal government websites until recently.

What if the search engine doesn’t get me the results I was expecting?
There is a failsafe feature at the top of the homepage called “A to Z Search,” which lists all of our services in alphabetic order – from Assessment Information to Dog Licences, to Recycling, to Tax Certificates.

In addition, each page has our contact information on it so that, if all else fails, users can give us a call.

Who are the primary users of the County website?
From the analytics we’ve studied, our users run the gamut from local residents looking for anything from tax certificates to grant application forms, transfer station locations and hours, and dust control agreements.

Another significant group of users are from industry, and they are looking for anything from maps to road bans or road maintenance agreements.

What about tourism and economic development?
We have divided the website into four broad categories called:

  • Our Community
  • Explore and Play
  • Invest and Build
  • Our Government

The “Invest and Build” section is geared towards promoting economic growth and assisting any businesses or industries in accessing information and contacts to help them with their questions or plans.

There is a section called “Visit Saddle Hills,” which introduces potential tourists and visitors to some of the high spots and points of interest in the County.

Any other new features you’d like to point out?
Yes. One of Council’s main concerns has been to make it easier for residents to communicate with the County when reporting an issue of concern. The new website has a feature at the top of the home page called “Report an Issue.”

This feature allows residents to report any kind of issue to the County and request updates on the County’s progress with the issue reported. The feature automatically sends the report to the appropriate department, and that department is responsible for getting back to the resident within two business days to get more information.

The other brand new feature we hope will be of use to local businesses and community groups is the “Business, Community and Attractions Directory.” This is a directory of local businesses, community organizations and tourist attractions with the opportunity to publish contact information, product and service information and directions where applicable.

Businesses and community organizations can enter their own information and manage their own free account by registering through the website.

When are you launching the new site?
The new site will be up and running on January 11, 2020. We’ve been warned that it can take the search engine a few hours to be completely operational so we ask users to be patient during the morning hours of January 11. After that, it should work just fine.

Any final thoughts?
Please let us know if you have any trouble using the site or finding anything. We’ve posted a “How to Use Our Website” feature at the top of the home page; you can use the “Report an Issue” function or simply call us during business hours, and we will be happy to help.