MercedCERA is debuting a newly redesigned website today as part of the Board of Retirement’s commitment to improving member self-service, security, and transparency. The new website is now dedicated to member’s needs, separate from the county, and features a new design, upgraded cybersecurity infrastructure, a streamlined site navigation structure, and refreshed content.
MercedCERA used website data and looked at how its members had interacted with the site over the past 3 years to identify the content that users access most frequently. The fully redesigned website leverages those insights and aims to be easier and more user-friendly to navigate, increase retirement transparency, and ensure accessibility to all users (including users with disabilities) across all platforms. MercedCERA is committed to users now being able to easily find what they need, from what to do in certain life events to helping members access the 1099s. Users can now access the website from a desktop, phone, or tablet at www.mercedcera.com.
“We want to put members’ retirement at their fingertips—whenever and however they want to access it.” —Kristen Santos, Retirement Plan Administrator
An ADA-accessible website for all
Just as buildings must have wheelchair ramps, modern websites must also accommodate all users, including those with motor, visual, auditory, or cognitive disabilities. Special attention was given to ensure the new website would function smoothly across devices especially for users with screen readers or other assistive technology. The new MercedCERA website was designed to meet WCAG 2.1 AA — the gold standard for accessible websites — bringing the site into compliance with Section 508 and California’s AB 434.
The accessibility enhancements will also benefit MercedCERA’s search engine optimization, or SEO, to ensure that members and their families can quickly find official information. This will help the retirement association’s popular website pages to rank higher in search engines for the terms that members use most often to find information.
In the process of the website redesign, MercedCERA also upgraded its hosting platform to reflect best practices, especially given the increasing demands of cybersecurity on critical infrastructure. Encrypted and secure connections will now be enforced for all traffic (using HTTPS with enhanced HSTS headers) and the content management system will be locked down and run on PensionX and Pantheon, an industry-leading and affordable hosting platform used by Harvard University, the World Bank, and other uptime-critical institutions. The goal is to protect the integrity and availability of information as well as the privacy and security of MercedCERA’s community members when using the site.
Resources for the members and their families
“In keeping with our mission to provide efficient services to our members and their families, we are opening a new channel to get information, plan for retirement, and get fast and easy answers to frequently asked questions. We’ve asked members how they wanted to receive information, and again, this came back as the preferred method,” said retirement plan administrator Kristen Santos. “We want to put members’ retirement at their fingertips—whenever and however they want to access it.”
The new website will give the staff a number of new tools to quickly adjust the site’s architecture if needed to respond to the changing needs of members. Feedback from website users is encouraged using the “Website Feedback” link in the footer or by visiting mercedcera.com/feedback.
“Our website will continue to evolve based on what we’re hearing and seeing from our community,” explained Michelle Lee, a staff member. “It will always be, and should always be, a work in progress. We feel that this new site will be a big step forward in providing members and their families the resources they need.”
MercedCERA’s mission is to provide benefits to its members, manage assets prudently in accordance with plan provisions, and provide competent and efficient services to its members.
The Merced County Employees’ Retirement Association (MercedCERA) is a public employee retirement system established in 1950. MercedCERA operates under the authority by the California State Government Code, Section 31450 et. seq., the County Employees’ Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL) and Section 7522 et.seq. (PEPRA). MercedCERA is administered by the Board of Retirement to provide retirement, disability, death, and survivor benefits for its members.
MercedCERA is an employer-sponsored defined benefit retirement plan qualified under Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a) that provides a lifetime benefit to members that is calculated based on a formula using age at retirement, years of service credit and monthly final average compensation.
Participating employer-sponsors include Merced County, Merced Superior Court, and Merced Cemetery District.