New city website improves user experience
Redesigned site may go live next week
SNOHOMISH - The city is getting a new online look.
The city’s redesigned website may launch as early as next week, economic development manager Debbie Emge said last week.
Emge hopes the new site will go live Oct. 21.
The city has been using the same online platform since the 1990s, City Manager Larry Bauman said.
The website is cumbersome and overly “layered,” Bauman said.
“I think it’s going to be a huge improvement over what we currently have,” he said.
City staff had been talking about updating the site for what Bauman said seemed like forever. The actual work to create the new website has taken about nine months.
“The fact that for more than a decade that we’ve been using the website, we’ve just loaded more and more information on to it, it’s become more and more cumbersome to find what you need on the site,” Bauman said. “It’s got too many layers.”
The city’s objective is to help users get to the information they want in just two or three clicks.
The city is working with CivicPlus, a company that works with municipalities on their online presence. The city has a five-year contract with CivicPlus, with the option to redesign the look of the website after three years.
The website upgrade, including five years of hosting, cost $35,775.
One feature Emge was particularly excited about is the community engagement capabilities.
“Users of the website will be able to subscribe and be notified if there’s a change to the website,” Emge said. “For example, whenever we upload a new City Council agenda, the subscriber will know about that via e-mail.”
Her hope is that Snohomish residents will be enticed to interact with and be engaged in what’s going on in their city.
The new site will be more menu-driven, Emge said. It will be broken down into departments, allowing the user to make fewer clicks to get to the information they need.
A tab with frequently asked questions will help users find out commonly requested information such as how to apply for permits, how to contact the City Council and how to pay utility bills.
There will also be a tab called “Doing Business,” which Emge hopes will help businesses choose Snohomish for their future development.
A “Visit Us” tab will encourage tourism, giving users ideas on places to stay and attractions to attend once they’re here.
Mayor Karen Guzak said she’s excited about the new website. It was well worth the effort and the expense to hire professionals to do the work, she said.
“It’s going to be much more elegantly organized,” Guzak said. “I think it’s going to be a much better way to communicate with our citizens and hopefully more folks will come to the website to find out more about the city.”
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