Cook County Website

Cook County is a large and complex metropolitan area spanning the city of Chicago and its suburbs. When helping redefine the County’s site, Duo knew it was important to consider both the County’s citizens and the dozens of County agencies. Through a series of interviews, work sessions, and user testing, we created a site that brought the County into the 21st century without leaving any constituents behind.

Duo worked with Clarity Partners, a Chicago-based management and technology consulting firm, on this opportunity. Clarity Partners was the liaison on the project and conducted an extensive discovery. Duo handled the UX design, site architecture, content organization, and collaborated on the development of the final site.

Setting Goals Based on Discovery & Client Needs

Clarity Partners provided the Duo UX team with data on what users were searching for, tasks available on the site, and the top tasks that users were looking to complete. Based on that data, we organized the site architecture and content around three main audiences: residents, businesses, and government. Then, we determined which tasks related to which audience. This ultimately drove the ideas for how to creatively display and present tasks to each audience.

Cook County Website Services

ORGANIZATIONAL CHALLENGES

One of the main challenges was how to organize the Cook County bureaus, agencies, and departments, as well as provide information for departments that were related to the County but not an official department. Solutions we created included:

  • The main bureau, agency or department page has resources to download, quick links, and related news and events
  • The main pages have a sidebar with easily accessible links to relevant sub departments
  • Off-site departments are searchable and visible through the Cook County website, but we noted that users would be taken off the County site to visit each department’s own website for more information

USER TESTING TO PICK A WINNING HOMEPAGE

We developed two homepage options and conducted user testing to determine a winner. We asked participants to find certain things on the site and inquired about site verbiage to determine which version of the homepage was easier to use. After determining the layout of the homepage, we built out the rest of the site based on that concept.

The site was designed with repetition in mind, so you can find services and departments in a number of different ways, including from the home page, menus, search, and lists of departments. While we didn’t want to make it hard to find obscure things, we did focus on pleasing the majority by presenting the top things users did first. Once users find the department or service they are looking for, the information is presented in a helpful and straightforward way.

  • The “I want to” drop-down menu allows users to apply for a picnic permit, pay a parking ticket, request a marriage certificate, and much more, in just a few clicks.
  • Using the audience buckets allowed us to dynamically populate what areas of the site were searched most in real time. 
Cook County Website

How Did It All Work Out?

In the end, the new Cook County website met the goals of organizing County agencies, bureaus, and departments in an intuitive way while getting people to the information they need as quickly and clearly as possible.

“I don’t normally gush about things local government does, particularly Cook County. But I have to say that the county’s new website and data portal is a first-class piece of work” - Greg Hinz, Crain’s Chicago Business.