The dark secret behind the De Leon, TX, website makeover

De Leon, TX

The dark secret behind the City of De Leon, TX, Website was that it was designed, developed and deployed in 24 hours.

As part of the manor.govfresh ‘City Makeover,’ I re-designed and developed the new De Leon Website using the free GovFresh WordPress Theme as the foundation.

I did some simple customization on the flight from San Francisco to Austin. When I got to my hotel in Texas that night, City of Manor CIO Dustin Haisler and I set up the WordPress site, installed the theme and added content from the legacy site. We also integrated 311, social media and Google Docs features. All of this was done via Skype chat.

There was no design by committee, and I didn’t make it my personal art project. This was a rapid-development process and a practical approach to modernizing one town’s Web and social media presence.

De Leon officials knew they were getting a WordPress-powered site using the GovFresh theme and that it would resemble the City of Manor Website. They weren’t concerned with color or design minutiae. They wanted a Website they could easily manage themselves and update immediately, and that’s what they got.

It wasn’t perfect on Day 1, but within 24 hours a local government had a modern-day Website. Within 48 hours, De Leon published its first blog post and began using Facebook and Twitter to communicate with its citizens.

This is a perfect example of how local governments can use new technology to save money, empower themselves and better serve citizens. See also the White House Blog post about the De Leon Makeover.


About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh and co-founder/CEO of ProudCity. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

3 thoughts on “The dark secret behind the De Leon, TX, website makeover

  1. Other than the traffic generated by this article, does this website have any users? Is it meeting the needs of City of De Leon citizens or is it just another pretty website?

    I think its great you can put nice looking tools in people’s hands, but when you don’t consider the needs, wants, and limitations of end users it’s just tech for tech’s sake: another reskinned website that’s destined to make the same mistakes as its more homely predecessor.

  2. Robert,

    You can learn more about the entire makeover on the White House blog post mentioned above. It was based on lessons learned from the City Manor, TX, a real-life small-town. So, yes, limitations were considered.

    As to the traffic and whether it meets the needs of citizens, they’ll know over time. The great part of this story is that the city can be more agile in addressing these issues themselves, at significantly less costs.



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