The U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria website, www.bavaria.army.mil, has received nearly 1 million views since its inception one year ago. Nearly half those views have come on mobile devices — the site is responsive after all — and most people visit the site to view the Community Calendar, read the Bavarian News, check the phonebook and visit the housing page, according to Google Analytics.
Despite these promising numbers, we want to reach a greater audience within the USAG Bavaria — which includes communities in Garmisch, Grafenowehr, Hohenfels and Vilseck. The site and its sister social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, offer the info you need to live comfortably within Bavaria. Here are a tips and tricks to make the site more useful to you.
1. The site brings together the communities of Garmisch, Grafenowehr, Hohenfels and Vilseck.
U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr was redesignated as U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria in 2013. USAG Bavaria now overseas Army installations in Grafenwoehr (Tower Barracks), Vilseck (Rose Barracks), Hohenfels (Hohenfels Training Area) and Garmisch (Artillery Kasern and Sheridan Barracks).
The website services all these installations and communities. The phone book provides a color-coded listing of all offices. Each directorate page includes office hours and contact information for each of USAG Bavaria’s installations. Plus, the Community Calendar tracks events in Garmisch, Grafenowehr, Hohenfels and Vilseck
2. It’s responsive—it’s designed to fit any desktop or device.
We now know that more Americans view the Internet on mobile devices than they do on traditional desktop computers. Mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the U.S. in 2014, according to CNN. And the Pew Research Center reported this year that “As of May 2013, 63% of adult cell owners use their phones to go online.”
As a result, we’ve built an entirely responsive design for our site using a Bootstrap framework pioneered by government websites at WhiteHouse.gov, USA.gov and Medicare.gov. What is responsive design? It means that our site is accessible on mobile phones, tablets and any desktop screen.
3. Easy to navigate—just use the A-Z index or the search bar.
We built the website using a simple design and navigation tools that actually work. The A-Z index is located at the top of every page of the website. Or click the Army star to take you back to the home page. The search bar at the top right—or in the top middle for mobile devices—searches everything on the site and news pages.
To keep things simple, everything you should ever need should be front, center on the homepage. This site is organized based on what you thought were the greatest needs in the community. What you think is important is “bottom line up front,” or BLUF.
4. The USAG Bavaria Community Calendar is your new best friend.
The Community Calendar is situated along the top of every page on the website. It’s broken down into eight different categories:
Tip: When viewing the calendar on a smart phone, select the list view. It’s easier to read.
5. Search events in the Community Calendar.
Visit the calendar. Click the “Search” button on the top left. Search a key word. You can even narrow your search down by calendar categories or date range.
Also, use the “Select Location” dropdown—top, middle—to narrow your search down to installation, either Garmisch, Grafenowehr, Hohenfels and Vilseck. Then hit ‘Go!”
So, for example, if you just want to see what’s happening in Garmisch, select Garmisch from the drop down menu. Also click the MWR: Gamisch calendar.
6. Share, print or download events from the Community Calendar to your personal calendar.
Click on any event in the calendar. A pop-up appears giving you details on the event. You also have the option to email, print, post to Facebook, tweet or download to your personal calendar, such as a Google calendar or your government Microsoft Outlook calendar.
7. Download Community Calendar events to your Microsoft Outlook calendar.
Click on any event in the calendar. Click the download icon and open with Microsoft Outlook. Save the event to your calendar. Voila!
8. Add events to the Community Calendar.
Managers, directors and community leaders should publicize your events using the Community Calendar. It’s easy. Follow these steps:
9. The website tells you what’s happening now!
An Events feed near the bottom of the site pulls events from the Community Calendar that are happening in the present. Unsure if a gate is closed? Check to see today’s events.
Plus, the Twitter feed in the right column pushes out 24/7 news affecting the USAG Bavaria community.
10. Use your device’s Find function to quickly find numbers in the phonebook.
No single method of organization could satisfy everyone using the phonebook. Who would know, for example, that the Passport Office is categorized under Military Personnel Division?
Here’s the trick. All devices, computers and operating systems offer a feature to quickly find text on a page. Open the Find bar. On Windows, click Ctrl F. For Mac, click Cmd F. Then, type the text.
For example, if you’re looking for the phone number to the passport office, go to www.bavaria.army.mil/phonebook, click Ctrl/Cmd F, type “passport” and hit Enter. Voila! There’s your phone number.