Growing a local government through design & development

Brunswick County Government

Back Story

With its great weather, hospitable community, and southern charm, Brunswick County is known as one of the gems of southeastern North Carolina.

Home to 122,765 full time residents and boasting over 24,000 vacation homes, it’s the fastest growing county in North Carolina.

Inside Brunswick County
  • Fastest growing county in NC
  • 122,765 Residents
  • 24,000 Vacation Homes

Challenge

How can a local government communicate with its citizens during a time of massive growth and change?

While the officials of Brunswick County were happy with the growth their area is experiencing, they knew they needed to keep up with the changes. This meant scaling their official county website up so that it could effectively serve the residents and visitors flocking to their cities and towns.

Like any government entity, there are many departments within the Brunswick County, and each one has different goals, needs, and information they need to communicate.

To do this in an effective and accurate way, they needed to make a few changes to their website design.

Their wish list included: the ability for each department to update their own pages; a more organized navigation so visitors could find what they need; and a streamlined way to share events, public notices, and important alerts. Sage Island was happy to turn their wish list into results.

Deliverables
  • Website Redesign
  • CMS Development
  • Front-end Development

Solution

To help Brunswick County communicate clearly and effectively with multiple audiences, Sage Island’s team of designers, programmers, copywriters, and SEO specialists built a sophisticated yet simple site that fulfills all their goals, and then some.

We designed and programmed a clean, simple, and modern website.

Brunswick County is located along southeastern North Carolina’s coast, which we reflected in a large hero image on the website’s homepage. The site is also responsive, which means it scales to whatever device it is viewed on—a vital quality in today’s mobile-first world, and especially important for visitors who are often looking for information as they’re traveling.

In the middle of the homepage’s hero image is a convenient search box, while important links are located just a little further down. Here, icons indicate the most-visited department pages, such as Public Information, Public Utilities, and Construction Permits. Finally, there are three sections at the bottom of that the page, each geared toward a specific audience and written in a natural and welcoming voice. “I’m a Resident,” “I’m a Business,” and “I’m a Visitor.” This means that users, no matter who they are or what they’re looking for, can feel seen, addressed, and welcomed by Brunswick County—an important quality for a site that serves so many diverse populations.

Website Design
  • Creative Direction
  • Visual Design
  • Mobile / Responsive Design
  • Search Engine Optimization

Visit Site

We created a user-friendly mega menu to organize content.

While the homepage leads visitors in the right direction, there is still a large amount of information that needed to be organized in a clear and easy-to-find way.

Sage Island accomplished this with a menu at the top of the homepage, again separated into categories for Visitors, Residents, and Businesses. Furthermore, we added sections for Departments and Commissioners, which can be used internally by employees as well as those with more specific answers or interests.

Each section of this menu drops down into a mega menu, filled with a plethora of links. It’s a lot of information—there was no way to get around that—but our team helped further organize it by grouping pages under subheadings. For example, under the Visitors tab, you’ll find links under areas such as “Public Records,” “Locations,” and “Online Services.” This helps users scan quickly and zero in on what they need.

Organization & Navigation
  • Custom mega menu organized by audience
  • Subheadings for various pages
  • Streamlined for optimal table display

We extended CMS functionality to give specific individuals the ability to edit pages.

When you work in county that is dealing with explosive growth and constant visitors, you need to communicate new information quickly and effectively.

This meant that each department needed the freedom to update their own pages with up-to-date information, rather than wait on a single webmaster to do it for them. Thanks to our preferred content management system (all hail WordPress!) we delivered this functionality. Each department can now grant certain individuals editing power, which means they don’t have to wade through red tape to post a simple update, like a new fitness class, a boil water advisory, or a fast-approaching deadline. And, because WordPress is user-friendly, updating pages doesn’t require advanced knowledge of code—just a training session with Sage Island’s team of experts. Thanks to this solution, Brunswick County can truly fulfill their goal of keeping their users informed and connected.

Content Management System
  • Easy-to-edit Department Pages
  • Control over who can edit
  • No coding necessary

We created an automatic feed that aggregates events from all department calendars.

Speaking of staying up-to-date, we added one final function to Brunswick County’s new website that is a true game-changer.

This is a feed on the homepage that automatically displays News & Events. The latest news is on one side of the page, while the Latest Events are listed alongside it. This information is pulled from each department’s websites, creating a central location for all of Brunswick County’s goings-on. Because this aggregate is automatic, it pulls from each department’s website all by itself, saving employees time and energy, while remaining accurate and up-to-date. Finally, for really important stuff, we included a notice at the very top of the website, which carries over onto each page. This bar can highlight a single issue of the utmost importance, such as hurricane warnings or emergency relief. Important, clever, and potentially lifesaving—exactly what a government website should be.

Automatic Custom Feeds
  • Pulls from each department
  • Lists latest news and events
  • Ability to share events and alerts
  • Public notice at top of each page

It's more than a message in a bottle.

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