There are many critical features that need to be included in any website these days, mobile responsiveness is one that cannot be over looked but there are also features that pertain specifically to Municipal websites. A well designed Municipal website provides your community members with accurate up-to-date information and a trusted source during times of emergency. Here are a few ideas for keeping your website relevant to your community and easy for your staff to update.
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- Information is key!! Remember that your town website is a space for citizens to get information: More citizens now expect that government websites will provide what they need, quickly and when they need it. Citizen feedback ensures that you are providing information that is relevant to your audience, and as a result, more people will trust the site and turn to it for valuable information. Make sure your website includes an east-to-find contact form to encourage feedback.
- You don’t need to be a technical person to have a powerful, effective site, but training is important. Websites work best when the internal management of the municipal websites are carried out by a town official, even if there are initially no town officials who feel comfortable taking on the role of maintaining the site. It is natural to feel a little out of your comfort zone when you begin to learn any new technology, with adequate one-on-one training, town officials are quick to realize that updating and managing their municipal website is nowhere near as intimidating as they had originally anticipated that it would be.
- Plan for maintenance from the start: Make sure you have a plan in place for site maintenance once the new site is up. This plan can be as simple as listing the functions that need to be carried out on the website, assigning a person to that task, and agreeing upon the frequency of the task. Assigning that specific role to somebody in the office helps to ensure that this will happen. Having a clear management plan in place also means that in the event of an emergency, people know who to contact to get information out to the public quickly and effectively.
- Start simple and work forward from there: It is all too easy, when creating a new site, to want to add as many features as possible right away. Towns may want to have it all from the get-go, but some features can change organizational workflows, which can in some cases create complexities that can’t be sustainably managed by a town. Make sure the site admins are comfortable with the basics: updating and adding content, and then, as comfort-levels increase, you can begin to have conversations about adding extra functionalities, one at a time. Be sure to carefully evaluate how additional features will impact the town offices’ organization as a whole.
- Meeting Minutes are essential: Minutes from committee meetings are some of the most viewed pages. These minutes have a huge potential to engage the public. Having updated minutes demonstrates to a town’s citizens that the town is committed to citizen engagement and transparency. So, even if everything else on the site stays static, be sure to have your minutes updated in a timely manner, and make sure they are easy to find.