The City of Blue Lake has finally launched its new web site. Congratulations! It’s good to see the village making a place on the web. The site is broken in to three main areas: One for the city government; one for the general community; and one for Blue Lake businesses. This seems like a nice, high level structure for a site that wants to provide a platform that encompasses as many aspects of the town as possible. The information in each area is basic, but a good start. I assume this will expand over time, perhaps add some more interactive or dynamic features. I noted in the article in the Times-Standard that release of the site was delayed while the site developer waited for the content to be delivered. I can sympathize with that. Sometimes gathering content is the most difficult part of site development.
The design is pretty basic as well. It looks like the designer used a plain 3 column layout template and applied it to some kind of content management system. I’m sure this will make keeping the site updated easier for city staff.
But there are some strange attributes to the system. For one, if you go to the web site’s home page, the URL changes from a simple http://bluelake.ca.gov to http://bluelake.ca.gov/index.php?module=pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=2&pid=4. Ugh. Kind of hard to share that with anyone unless you convert it to something reasonable at tinyurl.com. A better system would be able to convert those gnarly URLs into something more friendly.
Page titles (the line that appears at the very top of the browser window that is supposed to identify the contents of the page being viewed) don’t change from page to page. This makes it hard to bookmark different pages without doing extra work to identify the page in your list. It’s also a major error in terms of search engine indexing. Google and other search engines really like unique, accurate titles for each page.
Finally, I when I added the site to HumGuide, I couldn’t find a way to email anyone to let them know. There’s no email address or contact form that I could find. Very strange.
In spite of these criticisms, I am really glad to see Blue Lake stepping out on the web.