The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) wants to know what you think of its current website.
“A public survey [has been launched to] gain feedback from residents to assess what's working well on the current website, and what areas need to be improved going forward,” said Tim Hendry, director of communication and economic development for TBM.
You can access the survey here.
TBM is in the process of a website redesign and, as part of the initiative, the town is gathering feedback about its current website.
According to Hendry, town staff have already spent more than 175 hours developing the process behind the website redesign.
An RFP for the project was released late last year and received 10 submissions. Ultimately, TBM awarded the contract to UpAnUp Studios Inc. in the amount of $86,520.
“As a firm, UpAnUp has custom-designed over 30 municipal websites, and over 300 websites in total. They currently manage and they created the ExploreBlue.ca website,” said Hendry. “We do have a working relationship with them and they've also created other municipal corporate website for some of our neighbouring municipalities, including the town of Collingwood and the Township of Clearview.”
The new website development was approved by council as a part of the 2020 budget. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative did not get started until 2021. A budget of $110,000 was allocated and was carried forward into 2021.
“The $110,000 requested from council was really a wholesome project budget. So, out of the remaining funds, money will be used for the comprehensive security audit and the accessibility audit on the website,” Hendry explained. “We're confident that the full budget will be needed to execute this project.”
TBM hopes the new website will improve the end-user experience; possess better design and functionality; employ streamlined and simplified site navigation; ensure full AODA accessibility and security compliance; and enhance and simplify staff processes.
In addition, the website redesign is expected to improve searchability, something that has been a common complaint about the town’s current website.
“Our current website works on an exact search phrase, so you have to know exactly what you need to search for in order to find the result. Our new website will work on a broad search base, where it will be able to search broad categories and broad keywords. So, just in that alone, the searchability will improve,” Hendry said.
The website redesign comes with a comprehensive communication and risk management strategy that includes testing the future website for functionality through a resident panel.
“The user testing will consist of a panel of residents and we'll ask those residents to try to find a piece of content on the website. And then we're going to track how they click and how they search on the website to be able to benchmark the progress that we've made,” he continued.
Council members and committees of council will also be consulted prior to the website going live.
“Each committee obviously has an area of focus, and we want to make sure that the website is able to deliver and get the information across that they require,” Hendry said.
The new website is expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca