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With the growth of content and applications on the City's web site, the number of servers required to manage the system has grown from a single internal and single external server in 1996 to 19 servers at the end of 2002.
The expansion was necessitated by three basic factors: demand (large increases in content and use), the number of internet services offered and system reliability.

From its humble beginnings in late 1994 with a few hundred pages, the City of Seattle's external web has grown very large, indeed: more than 80,000 pages and 150,000 files strong here in mid-2003. All of the City's departments, agencies and offices are represented. In addition the City provides hosting services to a number of community organizations. Over the same period, use of the City's web sites has consistently increased in the neighborhood of 10% per year. In April 2003, some 625,000 users viewed nearly 2.7 million pages.

Similarly, in 1996 all of the City of Seattle's web presence was housed on two servers, one each for internal and external use. Web services were limited to basic delivery of static web pages, and a small amount of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) traffic. Over the years the Citywide Web Team has added, at our customers' and/or clients' request, a number of additional tools and web services, including separate platforms for development/QA of web sites, Web applications, SQLServer databases, large-scale FTP, media streaming, Web statistics, and GIS-based mapping applications.
One result of all this growth is that the reliability of these services, and the system as a whole, has become ever more important.

In early 2001, the web team worked with the Mayor's Office to produce a Web Communications Strategy. The goals of this project were: 1) to make sure that all City department websites are customer-focused, easy to use, and frequently updated, allowing users to find what they need quickly and easily, and 2)to reduce unnecessary paperwork and conduct more City business over the web. The project identified three desired results: 1) Improved content: Posted information should be useful and usable, emphasizing the City's key messages, e.g., affordable housing, transportation, social services, delivery of basic services. 2) Improved compliance with design guidelines: Within the City's web & design standards, departments are encouraged to have their own identity and creativity within the City family. 3) Improved site maintenance: Department sites are to be maintained and updated regularly.

Departments were asked to complete a self-assessment form tool to get an understanding about the current status of their own site, and to help think about what they could do to improve its quality and expand their on-line services. Department directors were asked to sign the forms - so one useful outcome was that web staff had the opportunity to brief their directors and discuss web priorities with them.

The completed forms have provided information about issues and plans for application development that have been useful to the central team so that it could align its services most appropriately given its limited resources.

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