Maine DEP Launches Accessible, Assistance-Oriented New Website

May 22, 2012

CONTACT:
Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Director of Communications & Education samantha.depoy-warren@maine.gov/ 287-5842 (office) or 592-0427 (cell)

-The redesigned www.maine.gov/dep is streamlined for improved usability and gets visitors to critical department contact information, permit applications and environmental data more quickly-

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has launched a redesigned website that projects a more accessible, approachable and assistance-oriented agency.

The improved www.maine.gov/dep conveys DEP’s renewed culture of cooperation with contact information taking a more prominent position throughout the site, including being featured on the homepage and on every page in the footer.

Information on the transparent site is organized consistently and by function – like permitting, current rulemaking and assistance – and media – like air, water and waste management – so even those with limited knowledge of the agency and its internal structure can still easily find what they are looking for.

Another user-friendly feature is that frequently asked questions of the department – like “How do I clean-up a broken CFL?” and “How do I find out if my development activity requires a permit?” – are answered on the homepage and on each environmental media landing page.

The former site’s 5,000 plus pages and tens of thousands of files were streamlined by around two-thirds, leading to more accurate search results both through traditional search engines and also the site’s internal search function, getting users to the information they are looking for in fewer clicks and with less clutter along the way, and allowing the department to better manage the existing pages for currency and content, all while improving transparency. The decision on what content to cut was based on analytics.

The site was designed using a customized mobile-ready template available to state agencies from InforMe in a process led by DEP Webmaster Karl Wilkins and web representatives from each bureau including Karen Anderson, Mary Breton and Paula Ripley.

Statistics show the popular pages on the site – which received 467,000 unique visits in the first four months of 2012 – include a page outlining the proper steps for cleaning-up a broken fluorescent lamp, the Bureau of Air Quality’s homepage, an overview of DEP permitting and licensing, and the list of available GIS data and maps maintained by the department.

“Our website is the first impression many have of our agency and we’re proud that this redesigned site better reflects our improved culture of cooperation and our commitment to helping Mainers get the service they need from state government more quickly and clearly,” said DEP Communications & Education Director Samantha DePoy-Warren. “This user-friendly site is just another tool our department is using to facilitate stewardship of Maine’s natural resources and further development of a sustainable economy while making transparent to the public our own efforts to do the same.”

Future improvements planned include adding the option for online permit application submission and related payment and utilizing mapping functions to help visitors locate resources like department-certified Environmental Leader businesses, she added.

As part of bolstering its web presence, over the past year the department has also reinvigorated its Twitter feed, which now has over 600 followers and can be viewed at http://www.twitter.com/maine_DEP

The new Maine Department of Environmental Protection website can be found at www.maine.gov/dep. An index listing the site’s pages by subject can be found at www.maine.gov/dep/subject.html. Those with general questions about the agency can write to infodep@maine.gov or call (800) 452-1942 while those needing assistance in navigating department-enforced laws, rules and regulations can contact the Office of Assistance via its toll-free Assistance Hotline at (800) 789-9802.

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