Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Consisting of more than 380,000 files, the Property Tax Assistance section of the Texas Comptroller’s Window on State Government website easily took up more than half the overall server space devoted to this massive state agency website. With a mandate from IT to eliminate gigabytes of data, and facing a site that hadn’t had any real maintenance in five to 10 years, I had my work cut out for me.

The initial problem was simply looking at what was there — it took two weeks just to figure out how to print the section’s directory listing in a readable format. We then eliminated “_old” files and outdated content from the directory before re-architecting the entire site with a new directory structure. The root level went from 1,535 directories to a nice, tidy 10. With a clean, hierarchical structure and improved URL design in place, we then implemented new page architecture sitewide, as well as a navigation scheme — something that previously had been missing entirely.

We also added a prominent search feature specifically for that section — with an enormous number of files accessible but not linked from the top level, it was critical to provide a secondary “navigation” that could reach deep into the site without relying on the homepage or navigation system only.


  • Compiled extensive metrics (primarily using Google Analytics and user surveys) to determine most-used pages and primary content audiences
  • Created improved homepage architecture, reducing the number of links by half and eliminating redundant content
  • Created section navigation for improved ease of use
  • Added prominent segmented search feature for secondary navigational purposes
  • Helped team identify and cull old content from the servers
  • Worked closely with Property Tax content team to re-architect all remaining site content and rewrite pages in a more clear “Web” style
  • Educated Property Tax team on basic Web usability, Search Engine Optimization and Section 508 compliance, to help guide their content decisions
  • Created URL guidelines for the new site and educated Property Tax team on best practices for new pages
  • Created new subsection landing pages to help users navigate the site more easily
  • Inventoried all linked documents on the site for Section 508 compliance
  • Helped create a rich 404 page/redirect system for guidance through the new site
  • Coded sample pages for presentation to the overall Texas Taxes Workgroup
  • Improved workflow as needed to ease production burdens

Project Team

  • Tami Heaton: Information architecture, project management, HTML/CSS development
  • Laurie Mann, Stephanie Mata, Liz Alvarado: Content strategy and development
  • Edd Patton: Design