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Internet ℹ️ Nominees for best municipal website?

dogandpony

Cyburbian
Messages
84
Points
4
We have, in my humble opinion, a terrible website, and am seeking examples of best municipal websites to aspire to.

I am seeking sites which are laid out attractively, intuitively laid out, helpful and informative, provide real service to residents and others.

On a related note, what do you all think is (1) important information to get out there, and (2) any trends you've seen that indicate new technologies or providing more service to residents, or existing services provided more effectively throught the web (or email, etc.). Some obvious ones are paying bills online, traffic tickets, GIS access. Somewhere a while back there was a website of a european town which provided real time GIS based locations of buses. Click on the website, you could see your bus is 10 blocks away. Grab your coffee and walk out the door.

In order to be fair (if that's important), it wouldn't be appropriate to judge a website of a town of 2,000 against a town of 500,000. So maybe the size of the municipality is by [less than 50,000] [greater than 50,000, less than 250,000], and [over 250,000]?

I'm guessing a lot of the forward thinking might be coming from areas that aren't necessarily in the US...
 

Masswich

Cyburbian
Messages
1,303
Points
23
Design to your resources

The most important thing is to make sure you can and will maintain the level of complexity you design- I hate municipal web sites with lots of sections "under construction" indefinitely or ones where the "new information" is out of date. Something simple where you can post current agendas and latest news is often all the public wants.

As for good web sites, I like the look of lots of them but find the functionality to be mostly the same. Boston's web site is hard to navigate. Springfield, Mass., used to have a great planning web site but its gone downhall. If there is a full-time web person in the municipality that helps but if not I would go for a simple no-frills approach you can maintain.
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,859
Points
29
Municipal Website EXAMPLES?

It's funny to have stumbled upon this thread after perusing the net all afternoon looking for a municipal planning website to emulate and then deciding to give it a rest and go to cyberbia to end out my afternoon.
I also think my municpality's website sucks. It is basically text, out of date information, and ... yeah - that's it. I am thinking that it not only needs to be functional, but also interesting. I heard a statistic today that said if you can't find something on a website in 30 seconds, most people try another website [unless of course you've found a website where you can slack off for an hour or so a day at work ;) ].
So, what's the solution here? D&P, did you find anything in your search that is helping? Any advise would be appreciated and EXAMPLES would be great!!!
 

dogandpony

Cyburbian
Messages
84
Points
4
RandomPlanner... said:
So, what's the solution here? D&P, did you find anything in your search that is helping? Any advise would be appreciated and EXAMPLES would be great!!!

someone suggested that Cincinnati had a good website, going there I couldn't tell (they sacked their planning department in order to be more developer friendly). The rest of the content was okay.

http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov

I was a bit disapointed with the response to my query; the Tacoma website suggested by another was good, but I was hoping for more to glean ideas from...

As I keep looking, I'll head back here and post any good ones.
 

DenverInfill

Member
Messages
13
Points
1
Denver's website (DenverGov.org) has apparently ranked first in a national municipal website survey. I use it all the time and haven't had too many complaints. Here's a press release I found on the city's website about it:

-------------------------

Denver City Site Wins Top Award Second Year in a Row

Researchers at Brown University once again have ranked Denver as the leading city for e-government services in the nation, based on the best practices found in its official Web site, DenverGov.org. Their research team gave Denver's site the highest overall ranking according to various features dealing with information availability, citizen access, and service delivery. San Diego and New York City followed Denver with rankings of second and third in the study.

This year's study is the fourth annual e-government report conducted by Brown University's Taubman Center for Public Policy. Their team analyzed 1,873 city government Web sites maintained by the 70 largest metropolitan areas in the country. They viewed an average of 26.8 individual sites in each urban area, including the Web pages for the mayor, city council, and major departments and agencies. Research was conducted in June, July, and August 2004.

The study evaluated urban e-government performance based on a number of different dimensions, including the availability of information, the number of online services, privacy and security policies, disability access, foreign language translation, readability, and means of communication between citizens and government. Results of the study were released on September 27.

Disability access remains a key factor in the annual study. In their analysis, researchers used two different standards: compliance with the Priority Level 1 standard recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and compliance with the legal requirements of Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Sites were judged to be in compliance or not in compliance based on the "Bobby" test that evaluates the accessibility of Web sites. Eighty-three percent of the pages on DenverGov.org passed the Bobby test for W3C accessibility.

Researchers in the study found that Denver’s Web site was clearly laid out and easy to navigate. Its privacy and security statements were found to be in plain view and easily accessible sitewide. The wealth of online, timesaving citizen services was also lauded.

By the time the Denver site was reviewed in 2004, its automated language translation feature – for which the city site won high marks in last year’s study – had been discontinued because of its lower-than-hoped translation accuracy levels. The feature converted the site’s English-language content into one of eight different languages with the click of a mouse. “We determined that the state of ‘machine-translation’ technology, though very affordable, was not yet up to par. It couldn’t be effectively utilized as a helpful enough tool for our customers,” commented Byron West, director of Customer Information Services, the city’s Web site and television operation. “But we’ll continue to look into better quality language translation options that are realistically within our means to provide. Denver’s government Web site is vast and deep. It contains more than 48,000 pages and files of information.” An average 16,000 people use the site every day.

Since the study was conducted, a new, more user-friendly Denver Maps service has been added to DenverGov, and plans are already underway for making the site even more accessible to people with sight and motor challenges. More intuitive navigational innovations to the site also are slated for early 2005.

The top ranking of DenverGov.org comes less than two weeks after the city’s official Denver 8 government access cable television station received first place national honors for its television and Web informational programming for the 2003 municipal election, and second place for its overall coverage City Council meetings from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.

Both DenverGov.org and Denver 8 TV are managed through the city’s recently formed Technology Services agency, led by Chief Information Officer Michael Locatis. “Public recognition of our Internet and television programs demonstrates real progress in achieving Mayor Hickenlooper’s goal of making Denver a better place to live,” Locatis believes. “We are utilizing technology in the best kind of way to improve the delivery of quality and timely information and services to our citizens.”

The Brown University research team conducted a separate study for state and federal government Web sites. Tennessee was listed as the top state for e-government and Colorado ranked 27th (up from 39th in 2003). The FirstGov portal once again took top place among federal government Web sites.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,225
Points
25
dogandpony: What do you mean by "we," the City of Chicago? I've honestly always liked the city's website. It's a bit hard to navigate and its software is a bit dodgy at times, but the search works reasonably well, and there's a huge wealth of information on it, including a zoning map application and just about every public document produced by the city.
 

dogandpony

Cyburbian
Messages
84
Points
4
jordanb said:
dogandpony: What do you mean by "we," the City of Chicago? I've honestly always liked the city's website. It's a bit hard to navigate and its software is a bit dodgy at times, but there's a huge wealth of information on it, including a zoning map application and just about every public document produced by the city.

No, I agree that Chicago's website is pretty good. I work in the north 'burbs
.
 

Tresmo

Cyburbian
Messages
873
Points
20
Bump.

I'm trying to find good municipal websites. We're re-organizing our site, specifically the planning section of the larger site, and I'm looking for excellent examples. Any suggestions?
 

Random Traffic Guy

Cyburbian
Messages
644
Points
18

Speaking as someone who goes to alot of city sites every day, my main concern is that they recognize the standard www.ci.{city name}.{state abbreviation}.us format. I don't care if you redirect me from there to mycityiscool.com, just have something that grabs me when I put in the generic address. I don't have time to mess with all the names, and non .gov domains that all the cities like to set up. Thank you!

Besides finding the site, 2nd concern is agendas and minutes, 2rd is ordinances and any design guides, 4th is mapping.
 

natski

Cyburbian
Messages
2,579
Points
22
We have the same on-line development tracking service mentioned above by Ozdeveloper. I have some issues with our site but it is OK.

Within the next two months we will have an online service request system. This will complement our contact centre activity and promises to be a very useful tool.

Home Page
Application Tracking
On Line Development Proposal, Application Creation System

This is the same for my place of employment also- we currently have online DA Tracking and online complaint/request services.

No online DA submission yet- doubt that will ever happen though, too many incomplete applications coming in as it is
 

b3nr

Cyburbian
Messages
272
Points
10
Certainly wouldn't recommend the one where I live. but Brightons if certainly worth a gander: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/

Dublin's site is pretty good. The site makes it look all lovely, then when you go on google maps and take a look...
 

cch

Cyburbian
Messages
1,436
Points
20
Awhile back I stumbled upon the Clive, IA website, and was really impressed. I love the way they show all the "current projects" under the Community Development section.

http://www.cityofclive.com/
 

graciela

Cyburbian
Messages
298
Points
10
I like this planning site pretty well. There is a great deal of information available and staff does a wonderful job of keeping it updated with current projects, announcements, etc. The larger city-county government site is not so flashy.


http://www.accplanning.com/
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
19,425
Points
71
Old thread, I know. Thought I’d bump it, since many cities and towns might have upgraded their Web sites.

One of my co-workers and I use Fort Collins, Colorado’s Web site as a baseline for a good small city site.


I found that Web sites in areas where municipal branding isn’t really a thing — mainly much of the Northeastern US — usually leave a lot to be desired. My community is in the process of building a new Web site, and “not invented here” was out of the question for citing examples of good sites to model ours after.
 

estromberg

Cyburbian
Messages
328
Points
13
To be honest, our website is one of the best I've experienced: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/ (City of Austin Redirect)

Very easy to use and tons of content.

I would tend to agree, well done, although being a map guy, I'd like to see maps used more extensively and more to the forefront, but I'm biased. Incidently, I have a friend and former colleague that works for the City of Austin as a DBA in the Water Department.
 

MacheteJames

Cyburbian
Messages
1,029
Points
26
Old thread, I know. Thought I’d bump it, since many cities and towns might have upgraded their Web sites.

One of my co-workers and I use Fort Collins, Colorado’s Web site as a baseline for a good small city site.


I found that Web sites in areas where municipal branding isn’t really a thing — mainly much of the Northeastern US — usually leave a lot to be desired. My community is in the process of building a new Web site, and “not invented here” was out of the question for citing examples of good sites to model ours after.

You've struck upon something interesting here. Why is it that many jurisdictions in the northeast are so bad at branding and cohesive web design? Go have a look at websites for departments located in the Sun Belt and holy crap, the difference in presentation/style/organization is just huge versus many communities in the northeast, some of which are just abysmal in terms of execution. Is it a "slow growth vs fast growth" thing, or a sense of self-satisfaction and lack of need to attract newcomers in mature, built out communities that aren't "hungry", so to speak, that lends itself to subpar web design?
 

bureaucrat#3

Member
Messages
133
Points
8
You've struck upon something interesting here. Why is it that many jurisdictions in the northeast are so bad at branding and cohesive web design? Go have a look at websites for departments located in the Sun Belt and holy crap, the difference in presentation/style/organization is just huge versus many communities in the northeast, some of which are just abysmal in terms of execution. Is it a "slow growth vs fast growth" thing, or a sense of self-satisfaction and lack of need to attract newcomers in mature, built out communities that aren't "hungry", so to speak, that lends itself to subpar web design?
I wonder if any of it has to do with the number of "new" cities in the Sun Belt. There have been a significant number of communities in south that were created post desegregation. New cities always tend to be very big on marketing and image. The ones I'm familiar with outside of Atlanta and other major metro areas also tend to rely heavily on consultants and outsource a lot of their functions or at least did so to start. It's probably easier for a city created in the internet age to be much more reliant and tech savvy than one with pre-Revolution roots.
 
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