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Jefferson County PVA

Redesigning the Property Valuation Administration

Jefferson County PVA

The Jefferson County PVA provides access to detailed property descriptions and relative information with an online subscription service. Users have access to sales data, assessment, and property improvement histories via a variety of subscription options. VIA manages the subscription service, billing, and technical support services.

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Specifically, we knew the PVA wanted to grow their audience through mobile access to geolocated property data. Going forward, they also wanted to release a new single month (non-recurring) subscription model for new users. To accomplish both of these, the non-property search content needed to be reduced and refined. VIA took a "mobile-first" approach to addressing those improvements. This direction drove both UX and Design, both simplifying the site architecture as a whole and clarifying confusing content.

As a result, we were able to implement some long-time "wish list" items such as in-page payments for subscribers and geolocated property searches for mobile users.

The Jefferson County PVA and VIA Studio launched the first redesigned version of the PVA website in April of 2010. Over the years, we have developed a solid relationship with the PVA and their subscribers, allowing us to come away with some unique insights into the subscribers' audience. Our role as Systems Support and our consistent and thorough review of the analytics on the site helped us lead a well-informed conversation when updates are made.

Another one of PVA’s long-term goals is to improve their site’s web accessibility, that way, those with physical impairments can reach, navigate, and access the content. In order to test the changes and find other areas of improvement, we invited a partially-sighted man to the office to get his candid feedback. We learned the web can be a difficult place to navigate when using assistive technology, it’s our job to ensure the web is accessible to all.

If you’d like to learn more about web accessibility, visit our journal.

PVA has session handling for security purposes, to prevent unauthorized user access, as well as limit the number of logins dependent on subscription. From our live support, we learned many users were being locked out of their accounts if they forgot to logout before closing the window. In response, we created a fix very similar to how Google handles its device activity. In the end, this lead to a decrease in support requests and also lead to happier users.

For PVA, we implemented a way of tracking user activity to trigger and send a report alert if an account has searched or viewed a certain number of properties within a set amount of time. If a report seems suspicious, we can suspend the account until we complete the review. This would block users from being able to get the full property details until un-suspended, in case it was a bot or hacker getting into the account. Not only does this fix prevent data scraping, but it also gives us valuable information into how users use the site.

"The team at VIA Studio understood our goal to demystify what we do at the Jefferson County P.V.A. From homeowners, to real estate agents and appraisers, VIA connected us to our city’s stakeholders with intuitive design and clear messaging. VIA’s creation of a user-friendly, on-line tool to help property owners navigate our appeals process was a game changer."

— Colleen Younger, Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator