Goal One in the 2021-2025 County of Simcoe Economic Development Strategy is to enhance recognition of Simcoe County as a premier destination for investment in Ontario. In early 2023, the Economic Development website (https://edo.simcoe.ca) received a complete overhaul to improve its functionality and provide the end user with an experience that reflects Simcoe County’s exceptional value proposition. The new website enables the County of Simcoe to showcase the region’s innovative businesses and exceptional quality of life to prospective investors and residents. It also supports existing companies in easily accessing resources such as funding and partners.
The platform for the website was selected based on its ability to host high resolution imagery, video and the ease with which staff can update content. Both characteristics enhance the end user experience since staff can ensure that content is up-to-date and accessible to all users. The platform offers enhanced search engine optimization and analytical tools. As a result, the website’s accessibility rating has significantly improved with staff conducting daily assessments to address any identified issues. The overall design of the site offers a modern, innovative, responsive and minimalist visual experience with the end user in mind that supports ease of use and maximizes users’ average time on the site.
Since its launch in February 2023 the site has hosted over 5,400 unique sessions and over 3,300 unique visits. The countries that generate the most traffic are: Canada, USA and India.
Originally, staff hoped to incorporate high resolution video on the website’s homepage as an “ambient video” however, given the global nature of the target market and the extreme variability of the users’ access to high-speed internet, the team decided not to include ambient videos in order to ensure that the website loads quickly for all users. As an alternative, a large banner was added to the homepage that displays randomized images from locations across Simcoe County.
The primary target audience was Simcoe County-based residents and business owners; stakeholders; and investors.
Award Category Details
The website uniquely reflects the community by utilizing of high-resolution imagery that have been obtained in partnership with Tourism Simcoe County. The imagery reflects the exceptional quality of life in the area and showcases the region’s many thriving sectors. The layout of the website was specifically designed following detailed analysis of user behavior to ensure a simplified layout that presented the content in three different ways. Scrolling down the page visitors have a visual representation of the content contained; hovering over dropdown options across the top of the page provides dropdown options; and using the enhanced search function. The new site provides current statistics and community profiles for each of the 16 member municipalities, which are updated regularly. Feedback from member municipalities was incorporated into the design of the site and the EDO worked closely the County’s Tourism and IT departments to integrate crowdsourced quality of life photos.
The websites have been optimized for mobile use which enhances the site’s accessibility and makes it more valuable to the business community and partners. The new WordPress platform enables staff to create dynamic webpages and easily edit content where ongoing updates will be made to reflect the EDO’s evolving investment attraction and business support initiatives. The new website is also aligned with the Work in Simcoe County website, which simplifies the infrastructure and resources required by the County of Simcoe to host and maintain the sites.