A new website for New York State

new ny gov website screengrab

A screengrab from the site.

The state unveiled its new website today. And it's... a lot better.

State officials say the state's main website hadn't undergone a major design overhaul since 1999 and it showed. The new website is very much in the modern, text-over-shaded-large-images style. It's "responsive" -- which is to say the design adjusts to the type of device upon which it's being viewed. And it includes some helpful new features.

The site bears some resemblance in both form and function to that of New York City. And that makes a lot of sense. The Cuomo admin hired Rachel Haot as the state's chief digital officer at the end of last year -- she had been in the same job with New York City, and had overseen a re-design of the city's site last year. Over at Medium, Haot highlighted some features of the new site.

The new site announcement mentions that the new "redesign elements, functionality and content management system will be extended to all interested State agencies beginning in 2015." That could be a good thing. And we're curious if the state could eventually makes some of this stuff available to local governments, too. (Because local government websites tend to be really, really bad.)

A few quick things we like about the site and things we wish were better...

The good

+ The site looks a heck of lot better. That's sort of superficial thing, sure. But a website is one way for an organization to project an image. And now New York State's website doesn't project that it's stuck in the 1990s.

+ The "services" section looks very helpful. It tries to organize a bunch of different tasks into step-by-step directions. For example, here's the walk-through on how to set up a business in the state. According to the announcement, the site currently has 40 of the most requested services set up this way and there are plans to add more.

+ The website makes an attempt at localization, inferring a user's location from their IP address (we're guessing that's how it works). And it includes some basic info for each county -- here's the page for Albany County. But...

The could be better

+ Getting all that local stuff together can be hard, and the website demonstrates that. It currently lists the highlighted "local attractions" as the Altamont Farmers' Market and Altamont Country Values. There are always going to be kinks and rough edges at a launch. But the website might be better off just sticking to more straightforward local info such as local government contacts.

+ It looks like the search function needs work. The top result we got for "replace license plate" was for a NYC web page about recycling old license plates. In fact, not a single returned result on the first page addressed the question. But there was a link to a state Senate press release from 2009.

+ This more about style and personal preference, but... Because the new website is the everything's-big, text-over-shaded-large-images style it feels like you're constantly scrolling and the browser window is never big enough. A lot of modern sites are like this and maybe it's just a sign that we're getting old.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Hey, look, there's a new DMV website
+ How to replace a lost/damaged/stolen New York license plate


Looks like the website for Time Warner. I suppose it should since both entities screw us...

When you click on the 'Government' tab at the top of the home page, for the Executive branch you see the Governor, Comptroller, and Attorney General. But no Lieutenant Governor.

I guess one of the website new features is the elimination of lame ducks.

1) I saw the two Altamont entries, and being from Altamont, I said, "Well, maybe they are able to get my IP address".... but to find out that everyone is seeing these two things for Altamont (one of which is out of season), does this mean that people in NYC are seeing these two entries? If so, that is pretty sad that every one in this great state is seeing that the only shopping choice in Altamont is Agway.....

2) Never have been a fan of the new fashion trend of lots of big boxes to scroll through. It made me stop getting my news from MSNBC when they changed their site. I agree with you. Makes it look like I am sitting through a Powerpoint presentation and that it is dumbed down for the population.

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