LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -(Ammoland.com)- People visiting the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s website, agfc.com, will be greeted with a fresh new look when the agency rolls out its new design June 1. The site was last redesigned in 2010. At that time, mobile technology was still a small part of the landscape.
However, as smartphones and tablets improved, traffic to the site has been dominated by these devices, prompting the need for change.
“More than 70 percent of the people viewing our site are using some sort of mobile technology,” said Beverly Birdsong, AGFC website developer. “With the old site, that meant a lot of pinching screens and zooming in. But the new site is much friendlier to mobile users.”
Birdsong says the site also has undergone a bit of a diet, with many pages removed that were not seeing traffic.
“We had many pages that were full of content, but weren’t being visited,” Birdsong said. “The new site is dynamic, so we can add pages and really expand on the topics people are visiting the most.”
The AGFC’s development team is the key to that flexibility. Instead of contracting out the website build, the Information Technology staff at the AGFC took on the challenge to produce the site in-house. Dustin Holden, AGFC software manager, says the build should have the same integrity as some of the most popular sites on the Internet.
“We’re using Amazon Web Services similar infrastructure to Netflix, Pinterest, Dropbox, NASA, and many other popular sites,” Holden said. “Not only does it save the expense of on-site servers and maintenance, but it’s extremely reliable and scales to our needs.”
Holden says the site was developed using various open source technologies, so the cost to the agency is minimized to mostly hosting fees.
Although mobile users will see improvements in functionality, people logging into the website from a laptop or desktop also will receive a special treat, thanks to the AGFC’s videographers who produce Arkansas Wildlife Television. Instead of a static image on the homepage, users will experience a variety of short video clips to enjoy as they scan through the sections of the site. One of four video clips will be chosen randomly each time a user visits the page.
“The videos on the homepage were sort of an incentive to keep people coming back for more,” said Jeanne Zaffarano, senior graphic artist for the AGFC who oversaw the graphic look of the new site. “We plan to update them every month or so to stay in tune with current AGFC events or the outdoor pursuits popular during that time.”
Another feature of the site is the use of the agency’s own Geographic Information Systems maps to direct people to the popular “Where to Fish” and “Where to Hunt” sections of the site. Previously, the site relied on Google maps to direct people to WMAs and lakes, but discrepancies between borders could cause conflicts.
With the new site, users can go by the data that the AGFC uses, and when a map sees an update, the change is made that day throughout the system.
Users who have bookmarked pages to the site may find many of their bookmarks no longer work, as the actual web addresses found in the browser bar have changed for most pages in the site.
“We do apologize for the inconvenience of having to bookmark favorite pages again,” Birdsong said. “But we hope the new site’s navigation is a little more user friendly so users don’t have to bookmark pages as often.”