Developing a Website

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Developing a Website Powered By Docstoc
The Electronic Brochure of Your Office
   How may have used internet?
   Checked your bank online?
   Paid a bill online?
   Have PTAD or TAAD bookmarked
Internet use by age group
Internet Use by age
   Currently 79% All adults 18 and older use the
       Adults 18-29 --- 95%
       Adults 30-49 --- 87%
       Adults 50-64 --- 78%
       Adults 65+ ---- 42%
Generational Online Activity
Top 5 activities users age 33+
   Get health info
   Buy something online
   Visit government sites
   Bank online
   Get religious info
IAAO Standard on Public Relations
   “A public relations program in the assessment profession
    provides current and useful information on assessment
    policies and practices, as well as a means of responding to
    public opinion. A proactive public relations program is
    essential to public awareness of the assessment process and of
    the importance of the property tax in funding local
    government services. A public relations program should be an
    integral part of every assessment office‟s work. A public
    relations program describes what the office does as well as
    how, why, and for whom its services are performed. An
    effective public relations program results in more accurate
    and thorough coverage from the media and a better-informed
IAAO Standard on Public Relations
   “In addition to more traditional communication
    methods, the Internet is an effective way of
    informing the public. Relevant assessment and
    property tax information should be available on the
    Web. Assessing officers must research, plan, and
    implement ways to deliver information on the
    Internet. Assessment agency Web sites should be
    content-driven, so information can be quickly
    accessed, retrieved, and reviewed.”
Benefits of a Website
   Create a favorable        Detecting and dealing
    images.                    with issues
   Overcoming                Education of the public
    misconceptions and        Provide Transparency
    prejudice                 Compliance
   Fostering goodwill        Cost Savings
   Promotion of product
    or service
Create a favorable image
   The website is one area where an
    appraisal district can control and
    create a positive and favorable image
    of the appraisal district.
   You can communicate with the public
    to inform and influence them that the
    job we are performing is fair and we
    are responding to the market and
    complying with state statues and
    standard appraisal practices.
Create a favorable image
   Unlike media interviews and newspaper
    articles, this is one media to which the chief
    appraiser has complete control.
Overcoming misconceptions and
                There are many misconceptions
                 and prejudices against the
                 appraisal district.
                A website provides an
                 appraisal district the
                 opportunity to overcome the
                 common misconceptions .
Overcoming misconceptions and
Overcoming misconceptions and
   This is an            Misconception: Appraisers use a
    example of how         specific formula (for example, price
    the website is         per square foot) to figure out exactly
    used to overcome       how much a home is worth.
    a misconception.       Truth: Appraisers actually weigh the
                           location of the home, its proximity to
                           desirable schools and other public
                           facilities, the size of the lot, the size
                           and condition of the home itself, and
                           recent sale prices of comparable
                           properties, among numerous other
Fostering goodwill
   The most important force
    affecting organizations and
    government today is the
    opinion of people.
   The value of goodwill is most
    evident when absent.
Promotion of product or service
    In the case of appraisal districts we provide a
    service to the public.
   The website is an opportunity to promote the
    service that we provide and the good quality
    of the work done by the staff.
   We can become the expert in the industry and
    build up credibility.
Detecting and dealing with issues and
forestalling attacks
                 The website can be used to get
                  ahead of the issues.
                 If values are increasing in your
                  district and you anticipate a
                  thrashing in the newspaper, use
                  your website to provide
                  information that explains to the
                  taxpayers why values are
Education of the public
   Appraisals and the functions of our
    office are difficult.
   A website provides an opportunity to
    make technical terms and procedures
   The website is also a facilitating resource
    for the taxpayer on questions they may
    have in regards to property information,
    applications and procedures that directly
    affect them.
Provide Transparency
             Government transparency and openness are
              fundamental to American democracy. In Texas,
              the Public Information Act is one of the primary
              mechanisms by which members of the public
              hold their government accountable.

             The preamble of the act describes the legislative
              intent “ The people, in delegating authority, do
              not give their public servants the right to decide
              what is good for the people to know and what is
              not good for them to know. The people insist on
              remaining informed so that they may retain
              control over the instruments they have created.”
Provide Transparency
   Important to remember
       The attorney general has determined that a public
        information officer does not fulfill his or her duty under
        section 552.221 by simply referring a requestor to a
        governmental body‟s Web site for requested public
       A requestor may, however, agree to accept information on
        a governmental body‟s Web site in fulfillment of the
        request and, in that situation, the governmental body must
        inform the requestor of the Internet address of the
        requested information.
   There are numerous sections of the tax code that
    now deal directly with websites.
   While is has not yet been mandated that each CAD
    provide a website; the legislature has made obvious
    an intent to encourage the use of websites for
    providing information.
       11.1825(r) – Display low income capitalization rate
       11.423 (a) – allows use of TDHAC website for mobile
        home verification
       41.415 – Electronic filing of protests
   The use of websites is even part of the
    Methods and Assistance Program (MAP)
    Reviews as a bonus question.
       *Bonus Question* - 10. Does the CAD have a
        Web site where property owners can look up
        their property values, as recommend by IAAO‟s
        Standard on Public Relations?
Cost Savings
   Establishing a website is a proactive
    customer service approach for both
    small and large appraisal districts.
   Instead of waiting for consumers to
    visit with questions, appraisal
    districts anticipate the questions and
    answer them via websites.
   It also means savings, because
    website hosting fees are often lower
    than staffing a customer service
How Do I Start ?
Basic Questions Answered
What is the Internet?
   Most simply, the Internet is a collection of
    computers that are able to communicate with
    each other.
   They are typically connected via phone lines,
    cables, digital satellite signals, and other types
    of data transfer mechanisms.
         (Data transfer mechanisms is a nerdy way of saying
          moving data from point A to point B to point C and so
What is the Internet
   In a nutshell the
    Internet is a network of
What is the Internet
   When most lay people talk about the internet
    is actually a subset of the internet called the
    world wide web.
   This is part of the internet where web pages
    with text, pictures and multimedia reside.
Where do the websites live?
   Websites are physically saved on computers.
   These special computers are called “servers” because
    the „serve‟ up the websites they have saved on their
    hard disks on demand.
   Basically, the server computer has a bunch of
    websites loaded on it and it just waits for people (via
    web browser such as internet explorer) to request or
    ask for a particular page. When the browser requests
    a page the server sends it out.
   Servers are usually run by web hosts, but can also be
    run by individuals or companies.
How does the web surfer find a
   The short answer is by typing in the URL
    (Uniform Resource Locator), or in other
    words, the web site address.
   So for example, if you wanted to find the
    website the
    you would type in the address in your web
    browser‟s address bar.
   There are other ways to find web sites
    (like search engines) but behind the scenes
    web sites are all being found by going to
    the web sites official address.
How does a website get an official
   Your website address is also called your domain.
   A domain is a word or words separated by dots
    which correspond to a number, known as an
    internet protocol (IP) number.
   The IP number is used by other computers to locate
    other computers and servers on the internet.
How does a website get an official
   Computers speak to each other in
    numbers but for us mere humans the
    numbers are hard to remember.
   It is much easier to remember than it is to
   You must register a domain to get your
    official address for your web site on the
    World Wide Web. With this “Official”
    address, the rest of the web can find
What is domain registration?
   Domain registration is the process by which a
    company or individual can secure a website domain.
   Once you have completed domain registration the
    domain becomes yours for the period of the
    contract., usually one year can be for as much as ten
   Before the registration expires it must be renewed, or
    the domain reverts back to being available to the
    general public.
What is domain registration?
   The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
    and Numbers (ICANN) manages the
    international Domain Name Server (DNS)
   Like your home address is unique in the real
    world, there also can‟t be any duplicate
    addresses on the Internet. ICANN insures that
    all registered names are unique and maps
    property to a unique IP address.
How do I register my domain?
              Domain registration is available
               to the public via a registrar.
              Fees and services vary from
               company to company but the
               process is generally inexpensive
               (under $10 per year).
              Before a domain registration can
               be approved, the new name must
               be checked against existing
               names in the DNS database.
How do I register my domain?
   During the registration process, you will be
    required to give contact information that will
    be publicly available through the WHOIS
   Anyone can go to WHOIS search engine and
    see who has registered a particular website.
How do I register my domain?
   Be sure you will own the domain name.
       There are some registrars that will act as your proxy to
        provide confidentiality to your information; however, they
        often do so and maintain control over the domains.
   Also be sure you retain the option to transfer the
    domain to another registrar.
       There might be an initial period after which this becomes
       Look for any fees that might be incurred as a result of
        transferring the domain.
           This could become important down the road if you wish to take
            advantage of another registrar‟s products or services
How do I register my domain?
   Upon completing the domain registration process, it will take
    a period of hours to a few days to be able to see the domain
   The domain can be “parked” with an “Under construction”
    page that acts as a kind of placeholder.
    Parking a domain is very inexpensive and most registrars
    offer this service of a small fee to give you time to come up
    with content.
   Once a registrant is ready to supply content, a web server
    must host the domain. The registrar might also provide
    hosting services or you may wish to transfer your domain to
    another web hosting company.
What is a web host?
   A web host is a service provider that
    stores your website on a server and
    allows your website to be seen by
    anyone who has an internet connection
    and a browser.
    Renting a server of serves spaces from
    a web host (also called an Internet
    Service Provider (ISP)) is a common
    and cost effective option.
What is a web host?
   Hosting your own website is always an option;
    however, there are several important and costly
    points to consider:
       Hardware Costs - To run a real web site you will have
        to buy some powerful server hardware and will need a
        permanent (24 hours a day) high speed connection.
       Software Costs - Server licenses are often higher than
        client licenses.
       Labor Expenses- You will have to install your own
        hardware and software and also have to deal with bugs,
        viruses, and keep your server constantly running in an
        environment where “everything” could happen.
How do I chose a web host?
   Free or Paid
       Firstly, you have decide if you will use a paid or free web
        host. It is recommended that you use a paid web host.
       The costs for the plans is very affordable (as low as $10
        per month) and there are a number of key features offered
        by paid hosts such as more disk space, access to multiple
        programming languages, databases, guaranteed up time,
        access to statistics and technical support.
       Free websites often have forced ads and pop up to which
        you will have not control.
How do I chose a web host?
   Host server type
       The next decision is whether to choose an NT or
        Unix based host.
       Which operating system you decide to use should
        depend on what features you need.
       There is usually no need for the operating system
        of your computer to match that of your web host.
        If you use Windows XP there is no reason you
        can‟t used a host that runs it servers on Linux.
How do I chose a web host?
   Disk space
       Next you will need to calculate how much disk
        space that your site will need.
       A vast majority of sites that don‟t have tons of
        graphics, sound and video clips or download files
        easily fit in 50MB of disk space.
       You should always leave yourself some room for
        growth or check if the host has a bigger plan in
        case you need to upgrade.
How do I chose a web host?
   Bandwidth –
       Your next calculation should be how much bandwidth
        (data transfer) you will need.
       You can estimate your needs by looking at your average
        page size (including graphics) and multiplying by the
        number of page views you expect to have in a month.
       For example, with an average page size of 50KB, and
        around 2000 page views per day, you will transfer and
        average of 3GB per month. You should get a plan with 4
        to 5 GB of data transfer limit per month so you don‟t have
        to worry about overstepping your account‟s limit, which
        may cause extra per GB transfer charges.
How do I chose a web host?
   Bandwidth
       If your calculations or your previous experience show that
        you can expect over 50GB in transfer per month, you
        should look into getting a dedicated server.
       Beware of “unlimited” plans.
           Almost all hosts that have “unlimited” plans, specify in their
            Acceptable Use Policies that no site can use an “Excessive”
            amount of resources. If you use too much disk space, bandwidth,
            or CPU time, these “unlimited” hosts will ask you to upgrade or
How do I chose a web host?
   Server side languages
       You should consider which server side languages
        they you‟ll require. Perl is the most popular
        scripting language but others are quickly gaining
        in popularity VB Script, JavaScript, ASP.
How do I chose a web host?
   Database
       If your site will store a lot of data that should be
        dynamically accessible (like account information)
        you‟ll need a hosting account that offers database.
How do I chose a web host?
   Technical Support
       Almost all problems can be resolved by email or
        live chat on a computer.
       If you are new to web hosting and don‟t want to
        use email for technical support, you may want to
        look for a host that has a phone technical support
        or even 24X7 toll free phone technical support;
        however, you should expect to pay extra for this
How do I chose a web host?
   Extra Features
       SSL servers for secure over the web transactions.
       Access to raw logs and stats for figuring out who the
        visitors to your site are.
       Streaming media support for letting your users listen to
        audio or watch video without having to fully download it
       Email accounts.
       Anonymous FTP to allow users to download files through
Next Steps:
How to Design a Website
Set your Goal
   Decide the overall objective of your website.
   When starting a web site project, you must
    first clarify what the goals of the website are.
    Knowing your goals will impact the choices
    you make when putting the web site together
    and ultimately contribute to its success or
Target your market
   Identify and focus on your target market
Write your content
   Decide what content your website is going to
       What information does your website need to
       How much content are you going to have?
   Content should be tightly focused on your
    goals and target market.
Write your content
   Best practice tips
       Use strong headlines
           First impressions are important, encourages users to
            read more.
       Keep your language simple, be clear and concise.
       Use pictures
           They add value to the text, breakup solid blocks of
            writing and attract and draw the readers in.
Develop a structure
   Plan how the web page will fit together.
   Decide how content will be divided up.
   Group the pages according to theme
   Create a hierarchy
Develop a structure
   Sketch how the pages fit together
    in an organization chart.
   Nothing special is really needed,
    just a series of boxes representing
    each page in the site with lines
    connecting them showing the
    linking strategy.
   A pyramid scheme is usually used
    to show the hierarchy of a web site
    from the splash/home page down
Create a design
   Keep in mind your goal and target audience
   Determine where page elements such as
    navigation links are best placed (such as Left
    side navigation or top navigation).
   Also consider the use of white space
Create a design
   Consider the significance of
    different colors.
    For example: pink doesn't do
    well for a hardware store, maybe
    some steel blues instead.
Create a design
   Determine which fonts to use.
           Times New Roman
           Georgia
           Arial
           Courier New
           Veranda
           Palatino Linotype
           Century Gothic
           Lucinda Sans Unicode
           Tahoma
Create a design
   Tips to remember
           Keeping web pages small - under 60k
           Keeping content headers clear and to the point.
           Keep paragraphs small.
           Keep contact information (email - phone) easily found in
            same place on all pages.
Create a design
   Tips to remember
            Keep look and structure of the web pages consistent across
             all pages.
            Provide a 'Home' button to take the user back to the cover
             (a.k.a.: splash, home) page of the website.
            Make sure links are always underlined. (Don't use CSS to
             remove the underline: big mistake if you do since people
             assume that underlined texts are links.)
            The company logo should appear on every page in the same
             spot and it should always be a link back to the home page.
Code your website
   Three ways to build a web page.
       Pre-made Template – the web site design template is a
        pre-made website design template which can be
        customized to reflect your company‟s branding. Website
        design templates can be found in various formats like
        Photoshop and HTML. Many times these templates are
        compatible with HTML editors like FrontPage and
        Dreamweaver. They are a great was for people to put out
        great looking web sites with little or no knowledge of
        HTML and web design
Code your website
    Use and HTML editor like FrontPage or
     Dreamweaver. HTML editors make building a
     web page feel like (to a certain extent) creating a
     document in Microsoft Word.
    Hand code your HTML in a text editor like
     Notepad:- You type in the HTML code yourself.
     Gives the most control over the web page.
Code your website
   Do you need a web designer?
       Website design can be handled by an outside
        expert or you can do it yourself.
       If you choose to engage a web designer the cost
        can range greatly depending on your
       The more extensive and elaborate the website the
        higher the cost. Expect to spend approximately
        $500 for a basic site
Code your website
   Reasons to do it yourself?
       Free or very low cost
       No communication divide between
        you and a designer
       Gain knowledge to make future
       Learning HTML is easy
Code your website
   Other options
       You can also contact local resources such as
        libraries and community colleges to see what
        assistance they may have available
Publish your website
   Choose Domain Name
   Domain Name Availability
   Domain Registration
   Select web host
   Upload your files
Publish your website
       Things to consider when choosing a domain name.
         Can they remember it
         Will they misspell it
         Hyphens in names are harder for people to remember
         Chose and extension
            Some like .gov or edu have prerequisites but most are open to
            Commonly used .com, .org, .net
         Consider registering multiple domain names i.e. both
          .org and .com version
Publish your website
   Domain Name availability
       Test by typing directly into your browsers address
        bar and only use the registrar‟s search when you
        are ready to buy.
       This will prevent unscrupulous parties from
        stealing your domain name ideas
Publish your website
   Domain Registration
       Select a good domain registrar
           ICANN,
           Network Solutions
       Registration period
           Register for more than one year
               price discount
               easier to administer
Publish your website
   Select a web host
       You will need a web host to store you website
        code and display your website to visitors
Publish your website
   Upload your files using File Transfer protocol
       You should first upload your website to your new
        web host, and then get your domain name
        provider to switch or re-point your domain name
        to the new location
Publish your website
   Test, test and test.
Publish your website
   After the upload
       Promote your website to attract visitors.
           Send out fliers and letters
           Media interviews
           Press release
       Submit to search engines.
       Get other websites to link to it.
       Add new content to keep your site fresh.
Electronic Filing of Notice of Protest
Who must comply
   This section applies appraisal districts
    established for a county having a population
    of 500,000 or more. – January 2010
   All appraisals districts with an Internet
    website accessible to the public
       If the population is 250,000 or less the deadline
        to comply is January 2013
41.415 Requirements
   The appraisal district shall implement a system that allows the owner of a
    property that for the current tax year has been granted a residence
    homestead exemption under Section 11.13, in connection with the
    property, to electronically:
       file a notice of protest under Section 41.41(a)(1) or (2) with the appraisal
        review board
       receive and review comparable sales data and other evidence that the chief
        appraiser intends to use at the protest hearing before the board
       receive, as applicable:
           a settlement offer from the district to correct the appraisal records by changing
            the market value and, if applicable, the appraised value of the property to the
            value as redetermined by the district; or
           a notice from the district that a settlement offer will not be made; and
       accept or reject a settlement offer received from the appraisal district under
        Subdivision (3)(A)
41.415 Requirements
   With each notice sent under Section 25.19 to an eligible
    property owner, the chief appraiser shall include information
    about the system required by this section, including
    instructions for accessing and using the system.
   A notice of protest filed electronically under this section
    must include, at a minimum:
       a statement as to whether the protest is brought under Section
        41.41(a)(1) or under Section 41.41(a)(2);
       a statement of the property owner‟s good faith estimate of the value
        of the property; and
       an electronic mail address that the district may use to communicate
        electronically with the property owner in connection with the protest.
41.415 Requirements
   If the property owner accepts a settlement offer
    made by the appraisal district, the chief appraiser
    shall enter the settlement in the appraisal records as
    an agreement made under Section 1.111(e).
   If the property owner rejects a settlement offer, the
    appraisal review board shall hear and determine the
    property owner‟s protest in the manner otherwise
    provided by this subchapter and Subchapter D.
41.415 Requirements
   An appraisal district is not required to make
    the system required by this section available
    to an owner of a residence homestead located
    in an area in which the chief appraiser
    determines that the factors affecting the
    market value of real property are unusually
    complex or to an owner who has designated
    an agent to represent the owner in a protest as
    provided by Section 1.111
41.415 Requirements
   An electronic mail address provided by a
    property owner to an appraisal district under
    Subsection (d)(3) is confidential and may not
    be disclosed by the district
Determining Eligible Accounts
   “Section 41.415(g) – An appraisal district is not required to make the
    system required by this section available to an owner of a residence
    homestead located in an area which the Chief Appraiser determines the
    factors affecting the market value of real property are unusually complex
    or to an owner who has designated an agent to represent the owner in a
    protest as provided by Section 1.111”

   In determining the properties which would be eligible for an electronic
    protest the Chief Appraiser considered many factors that create
    complexity in a market valuation. He considered the overall property
    value, the sample size of sales and properties in a neighborhood and its
    homogeneity. After much consideration and analysis, the Chief Appraiser
    determined that the following thresholds be used in determining the
    properties that would be eligible for electronic protests this year
Determining Eligible Accounts
   Considered the market value of a property. Higher valued properties are
    typically more complex to value than lower valued properties. The Chief
    Appraiser considered the average homestead value in Travis County of
    $279,763 when he set the value threshold of eligible properties at
    $300,000 or less.
   Also considered the size of the neighborhood and the number of
    sales. The smaller the sample size, the more difficult the properties are to
    appraise. The Chief Appraiser set the sample size of neighborhoods with
    at least 100 properties and at least 5 sales for aid in comparable
   Finally considered the homogeneity of the neighborhoods, meaning how
    similar are the properties within the neighborhood in condition, year built,
    size, quality, land values and location. A statistical measure of
    Coefficient of Determination (COD) was used to determine the
Implementing a system
   Most CAMA software vendors have
    developed systems to assist appraisal districts
    in the implementation of Electronic Filing of
       The samples below is one example of the
        workflow implementations
Implementing a system
Impact of electronic filing
   Most metro appraisal districts implementing
    the system for the first time in 2010 saw
    minimal taxpayer participation.
       Travis CAD – approx 35,000 eligible, 376
       Collin CAD – approx 35,000 eligible, 350
       Bexar CAD – approx 15,000 eligible, 70 protests
Final Thoughts
Website Examples
Additional Resources
   Free CSS Editor:
   Free CSS Toolbox: CSS Validator, CSS Formatter, CSS Compressor
   Free Image Editor:
   The Gimp: Image Editor and Manipulator
   Paint.NET: Image Editor and Manipulator
   HTML Resources:
   HTML Goodies: Good Place to learn HTML
 Good Tutorials for HTML and CSS
 General Programming Site and Community
 Has a Tutorial That a Kid can Follow
Additional Resources
   Marya Crigler, Travis CAD
   David Martinez, El Paso CAD
Additional Resources
   A website template is provided on CD and is available for
       This software is provided by the copyright holders and contributors
        AS IS. No warranties expressed or implied, are given. They have
        been offered in good faith and any consequential damage due to their
        use is the sole responsibility of the user accessing the system in
        question and operating the software on it. In no event shall the
        copyright owner or contributors be liable for any direct, indirect,
        incidental, special, exemplary, or consequential damages (including,
        but not limited to, procurement of substitute goods or services; loss of
        use, data, or profits; or business interruption) however caused and on
        any theory of liability, whether in contract, strict liability, or tort
        (including negligence or otherwise) arising in any way out of the use
        of the software, even if advised of the possibility of such damage

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