At the 2010, Fall broadband conference, we heard from Minnesota college students about how they use community and city websites to help choose places to locate after graduation. A town with a dud of a website can get crossed off the list quickly. Fast forward a couple of years and we’ve also heard that communities that attended the conference got the message – the website has to be good. They have developed sites to attract new residents and better serve the current residents – such as MIRC communities of Windom and Winona.
According to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the students were onto something that extends beyond attracting new residents. Metro-based community, they report, are also needing some attention, especially in terms of usability….
Navigability — the ease with which a newcomer can find important information — is a big reason there’s a growing movement across the metro to overhaul the way cities present themselves to the public.
“It’s extremely difficult right now to get to any actual document or data on our site,” said Brad Tabke, the mayor of Shakopee, which is about to narrow a large field of Web design applicants to a workable number and then set them loose on a re-think. “It must be 20 clicks just to pull up a council agenda.”
Many communities are looking to upgrade their websites with the intention of improving usability, attracting new residents and streamlining office procedures…
Online billing is not only a convenience for residents, said Amy Barnett, Savage’s communications director, but “is expected to increase efficiencies for city staff by decreasing the amount of transactions staff handles by phone.”
Cities hope to find savings from better use of the Web, because glitzy makeovers can be costly.
It’s another example of how well planned investment in technology is an investment that pays off.