We went to the Town website to see the list of candidates for mayor and council and explore the new website. It is about time they got that up and VERY convenient for present Council to have it launched in time for the election. Haven’t had a whole lot of time for analysis but here are our first reactions.
- It is better than it was -anything would be.
- Colours. The colours of gold mustard and burgundy are attractive, dark and formal; this sets the tone for the site. The classical architrave and town crest that tops the page sends the same formal message. It looks academic, attractive yes, but not casual. Already there is a very official feel. It only looks a little more open and less stuffy in wide screen mode.
- Features: People are welcomed and invited to explore the website and the new features including an interactive map, that’s good, BUT there is no link to an interactive map on the main page. You have to search around, or know to go to the visitors tab at the top and find on that page the link to the interactive map on the sign post at the left. If you click on the site map link at the bottom of the main page you get a page with ” The page you are trying to access does not exist. Please select a page from the main menu.” overlaid on it. [A little glitch that should be ironed out. We are trying to be helpful.] The pictures at the top are different on each page and are static -although if you click on them you can go through the gallery of shots. There is no poll on the site although we know they could have one if they wanted. No weather either. Guess they think that would be tacky? There is a link to the events calender but it would be nice to have the calendar on the main page so you could go directly to the day you were interested in, or check several days. Some of the other municipalities have it this way.
- Information: Seems to be an awful lot of stuff only available in Adobe downlaods. Do Town Council Guiding Principles really have to be in PDF format? Couldn’t someone put this in plain text/html on the page? At least the tax rates are spelled out although we don’t see mention of the deed transfer tax with the other rates. Take a gander at the tips for students, landlords and residents on the “Community living” page. Nice display of pictures on the accomodation page in the ” Business directory” but only dining and accomodation are covered.
- General design: Mostly old content has been slotted into the new look. It hasn’t been redesigned from scratch and doesn’t give a fresh, creative impression like some of the other partners of the Municipal Website venture . The Berwick and Windsor sites for example have a very blog like feel to their main pages with posts every few days about some event or some informational tidbit. Nice. It invites you to stay and look around.
- Overall: This is a wonderful venture and has done much to improve municipal websites all over NS. Although ToW’s site has improved we have to say we are a trifle disappointed. All in all it still has a stodgy tone and the the end product, despite the joomla template, is not as appealing as it could be. It doesn’t encourage interaction and doesn’t say to the user “come on in” . But there is potential to change that. Perhaps a new council would adopt a more approachable style?
- Question: We have to ask – is there in house input to the site as intended by the Municipalites Website Venture or is it the old webmaster taking charge of this project? It has a very technical feel.
For municipalities, the Municipal Website Venture should dramatically widen in-house participation in all website activities. Website work can now include departmental heads or other key people in your organization. And wider participation can mean transforming a web site which is monotonous and stagnant, into one which is dynamic, informative, and up-to-date every day.
The last minutes that are available online are July 7th. NOT up to date .
We have a reputation for being very picky. Why not take a look at the others and tell us what you think: If you were a tourist, a businessman, a retiree or young prospective home buyer, thinking of coming to a NS town, how does ours compare with these others for attraction?