New bills aren’t the only exciting changes to be taking place as the Utah Legislature begins its session this month. The Legislature has unveiled a newly updated, mobile responsive website to accompany the 2018 session which begins Jan. 22. It’s available to users at https://le.utah.gov/
“In planning for the new site we had three main goals, to make it mobile, to engage citizens, and to add search functionality,” said Jonathan Ball, director of the office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst and a member of the web team overseeing the project.
Previous legislative sites have not worked on mobile devices like smartphones, an issue the web team sought to address.
The new site features a variety of innovate accessibility features that make it easy for lawmakers and citizens alike to navigate the workings of the legislature from mobile devices. The web page can now be accessed from smartphone, tablet, or computer, allowing individuals to keep track of the legislature’s workings while on the go.
For BYU student Tyler Coggins, the site’s new mobility creates for awareness and involvement.
“What happenes in the Legislature impacts us every single day, so having easy access to the information is really important,” Coggins said. “Having the site re-made allows students who don’t know where to look to find it more easily and feel engaged in the whole process.”
Visitors to the new site are given the option to enable location data, which then tailors the site’s content to the area where they live listing the senators, representatives, and issues most applicable to them.
“Whether you are in Provo or Salt Lake, the information that appears first on the webpage will be what applies to you,” Ball said.
Legislators hope that the increased mobility and search functionality will foster citizen involvement by allowing individuals to easily access the political information that affects them, Ball shared.
For BYU student Olivia Fordiani the site’s additions help foster greater engagement.
“I enjoy knowing what’s going on with politics, and being able to see the actual process helps me stay informed and want to learn more about what’s really going on in government,” Fordiani said.
An easily accessible calendar listing events and proceedings as well as a “trending” section inform of important topics and events.
The site also boasts a newly revamped search engine to help users find accurate and applicable information. The previous webpage had three different search engines, which have now been integrated for optimal searches.
Ball said, “It’s all about making it easier to find the information.”
Other changes include a settings bar at the top right of the site adjusts the style and text of the site to accommodate the visually impaired, and a 360-degree virtual tour of the Utah Capitol building.