Add Columns to Your Site!

Over the last few years, we’ve added many new features and updates to our platform to make sites more compatible with our agency’s needs and stay current with digital trends. Each proposed new feature goes through a strenuous evaluation process to determine its need, understand the value each agency will get from the feature, and evaluate how it fits into our 3 guiding principles for development.

Our latest feature, Columns, provides agencies with new tools to utilize Columns to create more complex Site Pages and Blog Pages. Along with providing options for multiple columns, it gives editors more control over the structure of their single-column layouts as well, providing more diversity to their sites and choices on how to lay out their content.

Benefits of Using Columns

With this new feature, agencies will now have the ability to choose between adding 1, 2, 3, or 4 (although rarely necessary) columns to their Site Page or Blog Entry. The Columns layout allows for additional text, images, infographics, videos, related links, or files to display on the page in any order and combination you choose, while meeting the needs of making those types of content mobile-friendly and accessible. Not only does this option empower agencies the present the content in new, easy to read ways, it also gives them the chance to customize their site while maintaining the brand the Digital Services Georgia platform provides.

When people visit a government website they’re doing so to meet a need or find answers to their questions. They’re not visiting to pass time; They simply want to find what they’re looking for, as quickly as possible, and move on. Columns are a great way to help users do this. Columns enhance readability and break up content so it’s easier to scan and find answers quickly.

Seeing is Believing

When you decide to give Columns a try, create a new Blog Entry or Site Page. Under the WYSIWYG box, you should see a section labeled “Content” with the note: “No Paragraphs added yet. Select a Paragraph type and press a button below to add one.”

From here, select a size and type for your Column, then enter your content. And that’s about it!

If you’re not sure whether the Columns feature is right for you, check out these potential layouts to get the gears turning.

Columns-Example-simple1.png
Caption
Top: Two-column layout with an Image in the left two-thirds, and Text Area in the right two-thirds. Bottom: One-column Text Area.
Columns-Example-simple2.png
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Top: One-column Text Area. Bottom: One-column Infographic.
Columns-Example-simple3.png
Caption
Top: Three-column Images. Middle: One-column Text Area. Bottom: One-column Video.

Get Trained on Using Columns

We can’t just add a great new tool and not teach you how to use it, right? Well, we could but we’d rather not throw you to the wolves without a little guidance first.

If you want to try it out on your own, you can download the Columns Training Manual whenever you’re ready to get started. The manual will walk you through each step of adding Columns to your Site Page or Blog Entry, choosing which type of content to include in your Columns and how to save changes when you’re finished.

For more guided learning, we’re hosting a Columns webinar on Wednesday, October 19, from 1:30pm to 2:30pm. Attend the webinar for more on how the tool works and when you should (and shouldn’t!) use it.

Conclusion

Don’t think of Columns as just another option for your site. When it’s really necessary and applicable to your content, Columns can change the look of your pages and enhance usability for citizens. We want all agencies on the Digital Services Georgia platform to use Columns to their full potential and understand the benefits they provide.

Keep in mind, with every feature, our goal is to maintain the three principles we constantly preach on — keeping your site responsive, performant and accessible — and Columns is no exception to that rule.

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