Best thing about the new website that WDFW rolled out over the weekend?
Now when I go to search the agency’s press releases for something or other I won’t have to do it twice — the second time after I once again remember to !@$%@#$ switch the search to “all” news releases instead of just those sent out in the “past 30 days.”
That was one of the most annoying things about yee olde wdfw.wa.gov and I’m glad to see it’s gone in version 1.0 of the new website that WDFW says will continue to evolve in the coming weeks and months.
My immediate impressions are that at the moment it feels pretty stripped down and a bit text heavy in places, at least poking around all the pages on my work monitor.
Looking at it on my smartphone, I think it actually looks better this way.
Indeed, in posting an invite on Facebook on Sunday for folks to check out its new site, WDFW said that 60-plus percent of its traffic is coming from phones and tablets, “so creating a mobile-first experience was a key consideration.”
I appreciate that as on the old one, my phone was always asking me, OK, Fredward von Fat Thumbs II, did you mean the Jan. 3 hatchery escapement report or the Jan. 10?, the Feb. 8-9 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting or the Feb. 22?
With the new site, it’s pretty easy to pick the link I want the first time.
I also LOVE the high-up emphasis on detailing places to go hunting, fishing, clamming, launch a boat, etc., though there are still bugs to work out.
Heads up, state Geek Squad, here’s one I found drilling down on my monitor at work via Firefox through Hunting to Places to go hunting to Wildlife Areas: The map showing your properties is all kinds of messed up.
But, hey, on the plus side now we’ve apparently got a whole ‘nother ocean to our north to fish!
Online there has been a bit of pushback about what appears to be a new slogan WDFW has adopted, “Conservation starts here,” prominently displayed high up on the site, and fuzzy language in the rollout talking about “WDFW’s biggest supporters.”
The agency says that that means not only anglers and hunters but “people who enjoy outdoor recreation on WDFW lands, contribute to conservation around the state, outdoor-related businesses, volunteers, and other partners. Our website was built to serve all these audiences.”
Thematically it does go with the agency’s attempt to make itself more relevant to the state’s residents as a whole as it seeks to increase its General Fund draw to help manage all the critters and such.
I like that in the new site it’s easy to report violations and share pics and stuff, as well as find where to buy a license in stores across Washington.
I don’t like that going to WDFW’s local offices page now doesn’t take me to the Region 5 joint state staff reports, Columbia River fact sheets and the action notices, though it actually makes more sense to see how those documents have now been filed under Fishing & Shellfishing > Managing fish populations > Columbia River Compact.
And I don’t like that now I’ve gotta drill down through Species & Habitat and Species in Washington before getting to a search field where I can input “gray wolf” and eventually get there.
Before it was super easy, a link on the site’s front page — that one wolf implacably staring out at the world.
A link to WDFW’s new Medium page might also be added in the Stay Connected section.
OK, I should do some actual work here today, but I have one more observation: I hope that the weekly Wildlife Program reports make a reappearance as the new site fills out in the coming months.
If conservation starts there, the week in and week out, on-the-ground efforts of biologists across Washington detailed in those informative reports show how that plays out in part.
UPDATE! Found ’em, though now they’re called biweekly reports.
Meanwhile, if you’ve found an error on WDFW’s new site, you can submit a report here.
With a couple more days of using the new wdfw.wa.gov under my belt, I can offer a few more observations:
I don’t like that many links to the old site in the approx. 38 trillion blog posts I’ve done here are now coming up “page not found.” That represents a pretty big and aggravating loss, and one that I simply don’t have time to correct.
On the flip side, don’t ask me why but all my links to wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/updates.php — i.e., WDFW’s old Gray Wolf Updates page — do appear to be coming up on the new Gray Wolf Updates page: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/updates
So that’s something.
I like the prominence and size of the big search bar at the top of the page and I think I’ll be using that a lot. Instead of drilling down through Species & Habitats > At-risk species > Species recovery and protection > to get to Gray wolf conservation and management, simply googling “gray wolf” takes me there.
I think just becoming reacquainted with where everything is now at will take some time, but you can feel the frustration in this tweet from a fellow high-volume agency website user wondering where things are:
I don’t know how many times I typed “state record fish” in the old WDFW’s search and immediately had the results I was looking for, but when I tried it on the new one, no such luck, just a bunch of links to press releases about specific big fish, or stuff about Dungeness catch cards.
Eventually I tweaked my search to “state record fish list” and the fifth or sixth result gave me what I wanted, Freshwater and saltwater sportfish records,” the official name for the state fish records Mark was looking for.
No clue where Mark’s 2018 opening day creel stats are — maybe the site is still being populated? — but as I look at how the press releases are organized, I’m missing the way you used to be able to see all those issued in, say, March 2017.
Now it’s 445 pages of date-descending results, each with 10 items.
I can find the harvest reports under Hunting, but as for the Game Status and Trend Reports that was the next link down on the old site, those are now under Publications, under About WDFW.
The maps are still messed up for Firefox on my PC, but three computers over are fine on a Mac also running the browser.
Anyway, blah, blah, blah, more thoughts as they occur because I’m sure this is the most important thing that the world is hanging on.