When you tell some people that changes are coming, they get nervous. Change can be scary, especially if it makes us uncomfortable. Others see change as something about which to get excited. The thrill of something new and the anticipation of what's to come excites them. I tend to fall into the second group, but, I am not a fan of change for its own sake.
In 2011 the Cape Coral Police Department made some big changes- We created the Public Affairs Office, began our Community Engagement Program, embraced social media, and revamped our website. Capecops.com used to be a link that redirected users to the Police Department's subsection on the City's website. If being a "sub-menu of a sub-menu" was version 1, we wanted version 2 to be very different. We created a standalone site that had a bold look and feel and that tied directly into what we were doing in social media. It was a a big, exciting, scary, and necessary change that took us from the 1990s into the 21st century.
In 2013 we launched version 3 of our website. This was an upgrade both "under the hood" and public-facing. Taking what we had learned over the last two years, we created a site that was like a digital coffee table book. We wanted to not only provide the information our citizens wanted, but we wanted to also showcase the Police Department- Our building, our vehicles, our equipment, and most importantly, our people, through photography. It was a bit of a gamble because it was completely unlike other government websites out there. The gamble seems to have paid off. As of today (8/13/2015) our website averages almost 27,000 visits a month, compared to only about 1,000 per month in 2011. And last year we reached another milestone when more than half of our website traffic came from mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. Today, mobile accounts for two-thirds of our traffic (and growing). So, to meet this new challenge, we are making some changes once again.
Tomorrow, version 4 of capecops.com will go live. It won't require you to do anything differently, but when you go to the site, it will have a very different look and feel, but all of the functionality you want will be right there at your fingertips.
Text is now displayed over the photos and the navigation menu has moved from the bottom to the top.
The navigation menu at the top now has drop-down menus to make it even easier for you to find what you are looking for. The main page is a single, scrolling guide telling you where to find the various features and information you want.
Information within the site will be displayed on a single page, minimizing the number of clicks it takes to get to what you are looking for. You'll also see clear download links and distinct action and navigation buttons.
The new site uses "mobile responsive design" meaning it automatically reformats itself according to the device you are using. So even when you are on the go, you can get to all of the information you need quickly and easily.
The Cape Coral Police Department newsroom, one of the most popular pages on the site will still be there. The new format will feature one story at a time with navigation links at the bottom to see older stories. Of course, you can still use your favorite news-reader or RSS app to subscribe to the Newsroom to get the news in real time.
Finally, at the bottom of the page you will see our secondary navigation menu. Here, you'll find about the Cape Coral Police Department organization, careers, an email contact form, and a powerful search tool to let you find anything on our site.
We have been testing the site for several weeks internally. Even though we've gone over it repeatedly, we know that a typo or broken link might slip by. If you find an error, shoot us an email at email@example.com and throughout next week we will squash bugs as we fine tune the site. We are looking forward to this next iteration of capecops.com and we hope you like what you see.
About the Author
Det. Sergeant Dana Coston is a 18 year law enforcement veteran who is assigned to the Office of the Chief of Police. He is the Public Affairs Officer for the Cape Coral Police Department. He also serves as the Department's Webmaster and Social Media Manager, testing and evaluating platforms and technologies for use in the Cape Coral Police Department Social Media Program.
Det. Sergeant Coston previously served as a Patrol Officer, School Resource Officer, Detective assigned to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Patrol Sergeant, and Professional Standards Bureau Sergeant where he oversaw Personnel, Training, and Internal Affairs. He is an instructor for the Cape Coral Police Department in the areas of baton, firearms, and Media Relations, and has instructed all over SW Florida on gang identification and prevention, and the application of Social Media in Law Enforcement.
Det. Sergeant Coston holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and History from Emory University. He is a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Planners and the National Information Officers Association. He is a certified Gang Specialist, FBI Domestic Human Intelligence Collector, and was an adjunct instructor to the FBI Academy teaching human source recruitment.