Cities have an overwhelming amount of information to manage internally and to provide to the community. Your city’s website should not only represent your community well, but should also be one of your most effective community development tools. A powerful city website will enable you to put all of that information into one easy-to-access place, as well as provide a tool set to make city staff and council meetings more efficient.
Custom Website Design. If you city needs a website that has a lot of graphic design elements, which will help better represent the city and community's brand, then a custom website design should be a major consideration. By having a professional graphic designer create your site through wireframes and Photoshop prototypes, your city’s website will not only represent your brand, but will also make your design completely unique. A custom design also gives you great flexibility with any custom development requirements, both initially and for the down the road website expansion.
Theme Website Design. While a custom design is ideal, sometimes budget restrictions just don't allow for it. If this is the case, selecting from a huge library of theme designs can still get you a great website. You lose some flexibility with graphic design elements and are fairly restricted to the layout and structure of the template, but if you select a great theme none of this should matter too much. A theme website design will still represent the city's brand through logo, color scheme, and images. Also, a theme website design can free up the budget to meet greater custom development needs.
Responsive Web Design. Your community members and other users are accessing the city website via multiple devices, and these devices and mobile users continue to grow exponentially. It is crucial that your city's website is able to respond to these different device screens' sizes. Enter, responsive web design. A responsive, or adaptive web design, will make a website's content and layout adjust to any screen size. This will provide a great user experience---easy navigation, no zooming in and out, and no lost content--while easing the workload of your web master by only needing to manage content on one site. In other words, one site fits all!
Both custom and theme designs can be responsive. Custom designs will require a little more graphic design work, while most themes come loaded with responsive features.
Custom website development is essential for the success of city websites. A well-crafted website allows your community members to be able to gain access to important information. A well-informed and involved community member will feel satisfied with the website if it provides the type of information they are seeking. Here are some things we have implemented in the past for this city websites, but keep in mind that your solution will need to be tailored to your city's specific needs.
Agenda App. Five Technology has built a custom website application that makes creating, publishing, and sharing city council meeting agendas and recording minutes second nature. There are a variety of templates to choose from depending on the type of meeting that is being hosted. During the meetings, you’re able to access the agenda and add notes, comments, and amendments right from the app, then re-publish it for instant access by community members. This saves everyone time, paper, and money!
Google Calendar. Your local government can create an organized events calendar on Google that can be shared with your community. This organizes events and council meetings going on in your community including dates, meeting times and locations. Your community members will feel included and invited to partake in any public community events by knowing exactly when, where and what time they take place. Each division of the city can have it's own calendar under the master calendar. This allows specific event calendars to be associated to specific pages, or only shared with specific people.
A-Z Index. In order to make the searching process easier for your visitors, an A - Z index allows people to quickly access the type of information they are looking for. The A-Z index, archives every pierce of information on the website and stores alphabettically by the first letter of the page title.
Custom Search. Along with an A - Z index, a custom search toolbar can improve the search process for your visitors by allowing them to type in a keyword or small phrase to produce a list of related search results. Your visitors will be pleased with the ease of use and quick navigation through your website.
Social Media Integration. To better connect with your community members, it is important to leverage social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to always keep your audience updated and aware of various news around the community. Social media is a fantastic way to engage with your community members and they can share, like, or comment on your posts.
Custom eCommerce. Turn your city website into an eCommerce website that allows an easy and efficient payment method for the community. This feature allows residents to pay utility bills, purchase permits, obtain licenses and much more.
Citizen Request Application. The community can use this type of feature to report suspected illegal activity, graffiti, potholes or any other non-emergency issue instantly through your city government website.
Community Message Board. This type of feature allows an interactive medium for the local government to connect with its community. Community members can submit ideas and suggestions directly to local government officials through Five’s custom message board application. This also allows for detailed and organized discussions around local issues. Residents create a user account to submit their ideas, leave comments, and vote other ideas up or down within each topic. This is a great communication tool for your city website.