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BEaufort County Sheriff’s Office

Website Redesign for a Law Enforcement Agency

Lowcountry Made website by Bragg Media

Summary

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office represents more than 250 years of serving an ever-growing and ever-changing county in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. The Sheriff’s Office is split into three main divisions — administration, enforcement and emergency management.

Bragg Media redesigned the website with a more organized flow of information, aesthetics that closely match their brand and functionality to fit their unique needs of dispensing vital public information. As a case study, the Sheriff’s Office web redesign process is a great example of how every public agency should ensure any and all information relayed in a public format is correct, helpful and transparent.

Challenge

The former website contained outdated information in a confusing layout that was difficult to navigate. Overall, the former site had missed some key opportunities to showcase what sets the Sheriff’s Office apart. It also failed to be a timely public information resource that it now has become.

However, creating the new content required a lot of research and coordination with the Sheriff’s Office’s three main divisions that employ hundreds of people.

Liz Farrell of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office had a clear vision for aligning the website redesign with the overall goals of the agency. She took over researching, interviewing personnel and writing the new website’s content. Farrell ensured every area of the website offered Frequently Asked Questions, including a “How do I …?” that answers such questions as how to get copies of an incident report, how to find out the status of a case and see who is arrested in the last 24 hours. She sourced historical photos, documents, videos and other graphics for the website’s re-design. Additionally, Farrell also uploaded new content to the website.

Without her eye to detail and dedication to the project, the website would still be in production.

INSIGHTS

    The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office wanted the website to be a public resource tool — where residents, visitors, intra-agency personnel, community leaders, etc. could find timely information on traffic accidents, latest scam alerts, hurricane and storm updates and more. However, the general Lowcountry public did not know that the Sheriff’s Office was in charge of more than patrol services.

    In fact, the Sheriff’s Office enforcement division covers criminal, illegal drug, gang and environmental crime investigations; special operations teams: SWAT, K-9, explosive ordnance disposal and dive; and victims advocacy. The Emergency Management division oversees response and recovery efforts to man-made and natural disasters in Beaufort County. This division also provides 9-1-1 emergency dispatch services for county and municipal public safety agencies and traffic management. The Sheriff’s Office also offers helpful community programs, including Prescription Drug Take-Back, Volunteer, Explorer Program for ages 14-21 and the Citizen’s Police Academy.

    SOLUTION:

    Bragg Media worked closely with the Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office.

    In strategy, Bragg Media fine tuned the overall organization of the website and created a pathway for displaying the most vital public information. We formulated and executed the layout of four key landing pages that automatically populates with each new article (or blog) added:

    • The Newsroom: Public Advisories, Inside the Sheriff’s Office Scam Alerts and Media Center for easy-to-access content for local journalists
    • The Storm Center: Hurricane Emergency Alerts, Hurricane Preparedness, Evacuation Tips, Traffic Cameras, Frequently Asked Questions, Printable Emergency Resources
    • Cold Case Investigations: Shedding light on unsolved criminal cases, the Sheriff’s Office Forensic Laboratories and a call to action for people who might have information
    • Recruitment Center: Overall call to action for qualified applicants, latest job openings, mission and vision, Frequently Asked Questions and Reserve Deputy Program
    In terms of design, we used brand-consistent colors, fonts and graphics. We created templates within the WordPress theme structure that made it easy for Farrell to add new press releases, create bio pages for new personnel and add more robust pages of information. To create a better user experience, we used a mega menu that clearly organizes every important facet of the Sheriff’s Office and side menu with links to other important areas of the website. The Sheriff’s Office already had marketing and media assets that enriched the website’s new redesign, including weekly “Day In the Life” videos and “Lowcountry Law,” a 30-minute TV show that airs on The Beaufort County Channel.

    Part of the Sheriff’s Office mission is to be honest and transparent with the public they serve. That means keeping the lines of communication open without burdening administrators. Dynamic online forms cover the website, offering personnel and the general public an opportunity to ask questions, submit crime tips and comments. The forms notify specific personnel and send e-mail confirmations that prevent unnecessary phone calls feilding the same questions over and over.

    RESULTS:

    The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office now has a robust, eye-catching website that serves as the cornerstone for public information. The website offers voluminous information that was curated, authenticated and edited — a process that every public and private organization should go through. Now, the Sheriff’s Office has a brand-consistent website that tells the right story of a law enforcement agency that serves nearly 200,000 people and counting.

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