A city’s website is a means of communication with its residents and potential visitors. It’s a glimpse into the personality of a city and its operations. It helps make a first impression. Well, St. Joseph’s just got better.
The city’s new website is a big improvement in communication and accessibility. Speed and efficiency are just two of the areas residents will see a change. More is planned.
City council members voted earlier this year to contract with CivicPlus to revamp the city’s site. The company also designed the City of St. Cloud’s website. St. Joseph paid $17,000 for three years of service and software support through 2014.
While the city recently unveiled the new website, it will continue to evolve. Some of the features to be added include a bill-pay option, a room-reservation tool, live streaming of city council meetings and an area for local advertisements, according to staff.
There were also core features of the website that have been updated. Some of the updated features of the site include an online document library for access to city documents, including old and current council meeting agendas, minutes and city ordinances and plat maps. Residents may also sign up for notifications via email about upcoming events and city meetings via the new site.
As cities continue to struggle to maintain fiscal responsibility, officials work to keep a watchful eye on spending. Many cities are in budget mode with final budget and levy numbers to be determined in December. With pressure to find areas to reduce or projects to postpone, one could question the decision to spend $17,000 on a new website.
The decision to revamp the city’s website was a good investment, an investment that will lead to better engagement of the community and will help keep residents better informed. Documents that once took more than 20 minutes to load appear faster, and maps that might not have loaded at all are now visible with just a click of a mouse. While the site is still a work in progress, it cannot be denied that it provides not only a fresher look but an enhanced experience.
With the introduction of the new website, the next step is to see if the city delivers on the proposed added features. For those who haven’t visited the site yet, it is worth it and will reflect a dramatic change from the previous site. Check it out at www.cityofstjoseph.com.
Author: TaLeiza Calloway
TaLeiza Calloway is a professional journalist in Central Minnesota. Her byline has appeared in the St. Cloud Times and Central Minnesota Women Magazine. The Ohio native moved to Minnesota about four years ago. She joined the St. Joseph Newsleader staff as a reporter in November 2011.