Yakima County Development Association - Websites a Continual Work in Progress

Jonathan Smith

The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news. 



Websites a Continual Work in Progress

Websites a Continual Work in Progress

February 12, 2014

You may have noticed that our websites are looking a bit different these days.  We are in the midst of redesigning and improving our online presence and have many refinements in the cue.  

Our most recent project involved adding a responsive design to the websites so they can be viewed more effectively with mobile phones and tablets.  We noticed that about 20 percent of our web traffic was using these devices and this percentage climbed rapidly last year. 

My staff team has also been adding key words and “snippets” to optimize our placement on search engines like Google and Bing.  We are very pleased to see this work paying off.  If you type in searches for Yakima, Yakima County or Yakima Valley and then add words like business development, lifestyle, economy or anything close to what we do you will find us at or near the top of search engine results.

We also just switched to a new web content management system (CMS).  These are the systems like Wordpress, Joomla or others that help us manage our web’s content and appearance.  We made a switch to Invisible Ink’s CMS because it allows us to do most of our web work without resorting to a webmaster’s expertise.  Our team is fast developing the skills to manage our sites and this new platform will be more efficient for us going forward.  The CMS is also flexible in the event we decide to switch to another system in the future.

On the horizon we expect to better organize our web articles (blogs).  We typically pen over 120 blogs each year.  These posts feed our enewsletters and enrich content on our sites.  More importantly the continuous flow of new content helps us get to the top of search engine results.  Our challenge is that after four years of blogging we have created a ton of content that we want our users to find easily.  Annotating these posts should help improve our user’s experience.

Our office is also looking at mapping software to better showcase local real estate options.  This software also enables users to produce customized demographic reports surrounding a location they pinpoint using this special website add on. 

There are other improvement priorities on our list and we now realize that our websites will be a constant work in progress.  There will always be areas where we can improve.  There will be important new content to add and some content to lose.  Our team uses Google Analytics to pinpoint the popular spots on our website and those pages that are not working too.  Building and maintaining websites is a very interactive process that is driven in part by knowing what your visitors are looking for and what they are actually finding on your sites.

Websites are the front door to most organizations these days.  As a prime example, about 80 percent of site location searches now start online.  If we do not have a great web presence we will likely miss out on economic opportunities.  For these reasons (and a few more) we are committing more funds and time towards continually improving our sites and online presence. 

As an addendum, here are our three blogs:

  • the President’s Pen covers general economic development topics, association news, industrial development trends and public policy issues;

  • the Good Life supports our talent attraction/retention efforts.  It focuses on community institutions, events, people and initiatives that make our Valley a special place to live; and

  • the Enterprise Corner support our local business development efforts.  , and the Enterprise Corner

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