Council has some ideas for new town website

To aid development for launch in April
Thu, 03/21/2019 - 5:45pm

“Light and fun.”

That’s how Town Manager Ed Roberge described the discussion involving development of the town’s new website at a recent council meeting. Roberge circulated a document that contained examples of municipal web pages for the council’s reference, and said the town’s new website would be unveiled some time in April.

“We’re working on the town’s new website,” he said. “Each page will have an abundance of information. If you’ve been in the room behind me (off the chamber) you’ve seen the yellow sticky notes on the wall. That’s kind of our command center, where we’re creating pages to have a really usable and straightforward new website.”

Roberge said part of his job in developing the website is “to create a Town Council page.”

He said one website the town has been referencing is Saratoga Springs (Utah). The website’s home page features the town’s logo, with a rotating photo gallery and informational tabs.

The Block Island Times reviewed the Saratoga Springs website and found it to be fairly navigable, with agendas, minutes and meeting schedules posted in downloadable PDF format, as well as links to social media pages.

The website includes photos and biographies of the mayor and the five city council members.

“It’s a direction we could go,” said Roberge. “This is just an opportunity for you to look at things, and share some ideas of what you’d like to see on your council page.” Roberge also referenced the websites for: Vail, Colorado, the Town of Narragansett, and Charlestown during the discussion.

Roberge said the website is being designed by CivicPlus, and asked council members what information and details should be included on the council’s page. “Do you want any messaging or branding?”

“I made a tentative list,” said First Warden Ken Lacoste, who noted that he did some internet surfing and reviewed municipal/city council websites.

Lacoste said having the council’s charter section, meeting calendar and agendas “on the council page would be a good place to start.”

Lacoste said the council’s page should contain a “rules and procedures,” and frequently asked questions (FAQs) section to explain the council member’s roles and duties. He also said it would be important for the public to have easily identifiable information for obtaining town services.

As for photographs, Lacoste said, “It would be good to have photos of the council members on the website to put a face to a name.”

“I agree with Ken,” said Councilor Chris Willi, noting that “the agendas and the minutes” should be included on the council’s page. “The charter section, I think, is important.” He said the council’s page should have an email address under each councilor’s name and photo.

Second Warden André Boudreau quipped that the opening for the Colbert Report TV show could be embedded on the council’s page. “I’m glad we will have a council page to use,” he said.

Councilor Martha Ball said, “We’ve got to start with something that can be built upon, and not build a skyscraper right out of the gate. We don’t want to overwhelm people. And I think we should have a group picture. The council should always have a group picture.”

Councilor Sven Risom said, “I’m looking for this to be more of a platform for dialogue.” Risom said links to websites, such as tourism, and social media pages, etc. would be a valuable resource. “I want to have a place where people can simply, easily leave comments, or ask questions.”

“I think we’re getting into some things on the council page that should be on the general Town of New Shoreham page, as far as links,” and information, said Ball.

Roberge agreed to take the council’s recommendations under advisement as the website is being developed, and will bring a draft to a council meeting in early April for the council’s review and approval. “I think you’ll like what you see when it’s ready.”