COLUMBUS — While the address remains the same, content on the city’s website changed drastically this week.
Work was completed Friday on the new city website to make it more modern and user-friendly — for both citizens and city employees.
“We didn’t do much with the old one because it was so hard for us to change the stuff and update it. This one is very easy,” said Anne Kinnison, city finance director and a member of the committee that moved the project forward.
In March, the city contracted with CivicPlus for content-management software used to update the website, www.columbusne.us., which hadn’t been modified in at least six years.
That agreement, which pays the company $24,989 plus an additional $3,362 annual fee, allows the city to use this software along with any future upgraded technologies.
“This is a really good system,” Kinnison said. “I think it will grow with us.”
And visitors to the website should notice the difference.
The website is simple enough to allow each department to frequently update its information and features many new tools for visitors.
Using “notify me,” citizens can receive email or text-message notification when specific items such as agendas, calendar events, new releases, emergency alerts, bid postings or job openings are posted on the website.
“It’s kind of user-driven,” said Kinnison. “They choose what they’re interested in.”
Another added feature is a citizen inquiry tool that allows individuals to ask a question or file a complaint. If contact information also is supplied, the city will respond with updates as the issue is addressed.
While the old website included a staff directory, contact information for all city staff and members of each committee, council and board can now be found online.
“That’s a nice feature to have that available,” Kinnison said.
Also available on the updated website, which is fully-viewable using mobile devices like cell phones or PDAs, are archives, downloadable forms for permits, licenses and job applications, links to county, state, government and other relevant websites, photo galleries, an opinion poll and even a digital postcard that can be sent to others.
Search tools allow users to sort information by topic — for instance, a search of utility-type vehicle will bring up a registration form and meeting minutes where the ordinance was discussed — or by amenity, such as finding a park that has tennis courts. Links to Google, Yahoo!, MapQuest or Bing then show where that park is located.
“It’s a way to serve our citizens,” Kinnison said of the website. “We’re encouraging people to come and take a test drive and take a peek at it.”
Information posted to the website also will be automatically fed to new city Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“That’s the way people communicate today,” said Kinnison. “It’s an important thing.”