City Prepares to Launch New Website on Monday
The first major update to the City of Laramie website in seven years is set to launch on Monday, Jan. 15 at 9 a.m.
The updates are aimed at increasing the overall ease of use of the website, making it mobile friendly, easier to navigate and increasing the website’s security.
Jonathan Rhoades, City of Laramie IT Division Manager, said during a press conference that a team of five began working on the design of the website in June, to give it a fresh look and meet resident’s current web browsing habits.
Rhoades said the new website is 100 percent mobile friendly and will automatically “re-draw” itself to fit all of its features onto any sized screen, such as phone or tablet screens.
The website menus were also reorganized to allow users to navigate the site with fewer clicks. Several ‘buttons’ featuring the most popular pages are on the websites’ home page to allow users to access them more easily, including a Parks and Recreation button and a ‘report a concern’ button, where residents can easily provide feedback and voice their concerns to the city.
The main page also includes an events calendar, the latest city news and highlights. Bill pay, which is a popular page on the site, is also included and is now completely mobile friendly, Rhoades said. Rhoades said that being mobile friendly was a high priority in the new website design, as they had complaints from residents in the past that some of the features, such as graphics or maps, didn’t load when people accessed the site using their phones.
Rhoades said the last time the city’s webpage got an update was on Nov. 11., 2011. He said that seven years is a long time for a website to go un- updated and he hopes that updates come more frequently in the future to help the website keep up with the rapid pace of technology.
City Manager Janine Jordan said the City Council has been pushing for greater use of technology for about five years, to increase efficiency in internal city operations, but also to improve the experience of residents who were trying to access city information.
“This is an outgrowth of one of their goals, but I would note as well that they have had dialogue with constituents that have indicated that this better, mobile-friendly opportunity would be desirable,” Jordan said.
The City Council approved the $11,436 budget for the new website in May as part of the supplemental budget. The website’s designer was Manhattan, Kansas based Civic Plus, which specializes in municipal and government websites.
The website is not only designed for easier use for residents, but city employees as well. Rhoades said he is very excited about the back end of the site, which has been designed to be more easily updated and will help city employees disseminate accurate information more quickly.
Rhoades said depending on the feedback from residents about the new website, the city may look into other technologies such as a city app.
“One of the things we wanted to see was what the response was to this site on mobile phones before we committed additional funding for an app,” Rhoades said. “We believe, the way this site is designed, that everything that you would have in an app is done right from here.”
Rhoades says the city plans to continue to have an online presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. He said the city has created an Instagram account that they hope to being using soon to reach out to the public.