Saturday, February 15, 2014

New Website's Memory Problem

City Public Information Director Anthony Wilson will present the City's new website to Council on Tuesday.  Below is the background information on the new site.

To: Mayor and Councilmembers

From: Anthony Wilson, Public Information Officer

Subject: Agenda Item for Feb. 18, 2014, Council Meeting

Caption: REGULAR Item - Presentation of new City web site.

Summary: The City has launched its new web site at The new site, developed by Vision Internet along with a team of City employees, is more inviting, more interactive and more informative than its predecessor.
History: The City Council on May 1, 2012, approved a contract with Vision Internet for the design of a new website at a cost not to exceed $40,000. Public Information negotiated a cost of $30,860, chiefly by opting to conduct training remotely and migrating all but 50 of the website’s nearly 400 pages ourselves. (That proved to be valuable, hands-on training.)

Following Council approval on Nov. 26, 2013, of a subscription services
agreement with Vision that includes hosting the site, a team of four City
employees began working with Vision on the new site’s structures and features.  The chief goals were to ensure the site offered a wealth of information that was easy to navigate, that it offered more opportunities for conducting City business online, and that it was engaging in its look.

From Jan. 2 through Feb. 5, when the site debuted, our Internet team of
Multimedia Coordinator Brian Groves, IT Network Analyst AJ Deardorff, IT Administrative Assistant Jade Baucom and Public Information Officer Anthony Wilson painstakingly created and migrated more than 300 pages worth of content, ensuring that each page is consistent in its information and presentation.

Additionally, Groves created an interactive map of the City’s public facilities, Deardorff masterminded a tab specifically for visitors, Baucom crafted a comprehensive directory of all City employees with email addresses, and Wilson adapted online forms for everything from obtaining a health permit to adopting a cat to reporting a pothole.

Work on the site continues as the team looks for greater ways for citizens to conduct more business online, particularly making payments to the City.

Financial Impact: The site’s design cost $30,860 – 23 percent less than authorized by Council.

Reviewed by Director:  Michael Dane, Assistant City Manager, Feb. 5, 2014

It fails to mention access to documents available on the old website.  A search by topic would produce webpages, but also potentially a long list of documents that went back a decade or more.  Those appear to be gone.   

The old website did a credible job in making public large portions of the city's institutional memory.  I'm not sure the new one is up to the task, especially for a city and public information officer determined to reduce that memory to the last three years.

It would be interesting to know how many documents were available, loaded, searchable on the old website and how many will make the migration to the new?

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