Hanover Borough Gets Web Facelift
I have to give credit where credit is due. Hanover Borough has unveiled a new website which features a clean, compressed navigation and a decent amount of information. The site looks attractive and doesn’t seem to lose visitors through a mess of links. I really like the addition of more detailed departmental information as well as the inclusion of forms and codes. That’s how you create a sense of openness.
But the URL?
www.hanoverboroughyorkcountypa.info? Was www.hanoverisatowninyorkcountythatsomepeoplethinkisinadamscountyandisagoodplacetolive.co.uk taken?
You need to make it easy for people to find your web presence. One way is to make sure you have a strong Google ranking. This happens pretty much automatically, although I’ll be curious to see when the new site pops up on a search instead of the old one. Personally, I would prefer that they simply forward anyone who tries to access http://www.borough.hanover.pa.us/ to the new site, but I have a hunch the older site is tied to a state-wide system, which might make it harder than a simple re-direct. If not, set up a re-direct, folks.
The other way people find you is by remembering your web address. When your URL – without the extension – is more than 25 letters long, you’re fighting an uphill battle. And when you add an odd extension on the end like .info, you make it even harder for folks. At first I figured that someone had squatted on some of the more simple options so I headed over to GoDaddy.com to check it out. They usually have pretty good deals on domains (even though I don’t use them for work or personal domain or web hosting).
Boy, was I wrong. I could have scooped up a whole plethora of hanoverborough and honoverboro domain options and had them all re-direct to this site. I could add some good metadeta and keywords and have this site show up near the top when talking about Hanover Borough in web searches. I probably couldn’t overcome the official site, but since a Channel 27 story on the large percentage tax increase is the third Google result when you search for “Hanover Borough,” it can’t be that hard. Heck, simply by putting Hanover Borough into a headline last year (and getting a bunch of traffic on that post) gets one page on this domain up to No. 15 in that same search.
The point is not to simply complain about the borough for the sake of it. They did a great job with the site, but if people can’t find it easily, what good does that do? Hanoverborough,info is $3 on GoDaddy. Same for hanoverboro.info. You can get those same domains with a .com extension for $10. I wasn’t feeling mean today so I didn’t snap them up, but someone might. They used the Homestead web building service, maybe it had something to do with what domain they chose. I’m not familiar with this company, but the value pales in comparison to most of the hosting services I know about. But why pay less money for something with more options?
The domain issue can’t have to do with some regulation since Penn Township uses penntwp.com. It just seems that they had an opportunity to make a good impression and either cut some corners or went for the cheapest option possible, making it harder for people to find the new site that looks so nice. The whole URL issue simply shows a lack of foresight and understanding about the project. Is is the be all and end all? No, but it confirms my belief that the administration doesn’t always seek the best counsel because it might actually force them to admit they don’t have all the answers.
Oh, and by the way, they have also made a pretty risky move or two in how you registered the domain – all publicly available info so it was easy to find out. I’d be glad to offer my consulting fee to help eliminate these mistakes. But what do I know? I just do some of this stuff for a living. I’m sure someone can spin that into me not knowing what I’m talking about.