Introducing GovPress


After several years of talking about and conceptualizing, and months of development, I’m proud to formally (and finally) announce the release GovPress, a simple, elegant WordPress theme for government.

Since we launched version 1.0 just a few months ago, it has been downloaded more than 30,000 times from WordPress.org by governments, nonprofits and educational institutions around the world.

For those who’ve been following our work on this project, the original iteration was called GovFresh WP, however, we renamed it GovPress for the formal release so that it met WordPress branding guidelines and could be included in the official WordPress theme gallery.

The entire process of bringing GovPress to market has been an amazing experience, getting feedback, questions and, especially, thank you notes from people all over the world. I’ve learned a ton about building a solid civic hacking project and will soon write more about this so that it may help others working through their own ideas.

Finally, I can’t thank Devin Price enough for all his support in making this happen.


GovFresh WP: building a government WordPress theme

GovFresh WP

Despite the fact that millions of websites around the world today are powered by low- and no-cost open source content management systems, nearly all small city governments remain trapped in the 90s.

It’s not that they don’t want great websites to serve their citizens. They just don’t have the technical prowess to understand what their options are and how to deploy and manage them.

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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.

Michigan’s Calhoun County Road Commission gets a GovFresh makeover

Michigan’s Calhoun County Road Commission is the latest government agency to make use of our GovFresh Gov 2.0 WordPress theme. The site also integrates SeeClickFix’s service report tools and IdeaScale’s ideas and citizen collaboration widget.

Chairman Scott Brown sums up his agency’s approach to executing the site and hat tip to the City of Manor, TX, the first government to execute the theme:

“The City of Manor site got us really excited about the level of citizen involvement that could be possible … and with the cost of the photo, the cost of hosting and thanks to alot of help from you, we have a total of 61 dollars of taxpayer money invested in a great site.”

Check it out:

Calhoun County Road Commission