Taylorsville City website makeover proving to be a hit
Aug 06, 2019 02:59PM
● By Carl Fauver
The Taylorsville City website has undergone an extensive makeover, as officials continue working to improve their communication channels with residents. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
A constant theme among Taylorsville elected officials is their ongoing desire to improve communication between the city and its residents. At the end of June, that effort came to fruition in the form of a revamped city website.
“It is very clean, user-friendly and easier to navigate,” said Mayor Kristie Overson. “We discovered a few glitches after it was launched (June 28), and we are working through those. But overall, I think it has a beautiful look, and residents will find it easier to locate the information they need. It is head and shoulders better than the old website.”
City Chief Financial Officer Scott Harrington reports the company contracted to complete the overhaul, and to train local employees how to use it effectively (Granicus), was paid $40,000.
With locations in greater Los Angeles; Denver; Washington, D.C.; greater Minneapolis; and the United Kingdom, Granicus specializes in modernizing governmental online services.
“More than 4,200 government agencies have chosen Granicus to modernize their online services, web presence and communication strategy,” the company’s website claims. “Over 200 million citizens have chosen to receive vital, time-sensitive information from government through Granicus. Our mission is to help bring government and citizens closer together.”
“The city had chosen Granicus before I hired on full time,” said Taylorsville Communications Director Kim Horiuchi, who began working for the city in September and became full time last December. “We had a number of video conference meetings, leading up to a more intensive training. In April, Granicus had a representative here in Utah for four days to train me and about a dozen city employees who will be posting web content.”
The overhaul follows a survey city leaders conducted, asking residents what improvements they would like to see made on the Taylorsville website. Horiuchi reports residents asked for easier access to event information, ordinances, meeting agendas and phone numbers, among other things.
“Based on that feedback, the website was designed to provide better search features, more apparent department buttons, easy-to-find city information and updated links,” Horiuchi said. “The design (also) includes attractive graphic elements and beautiful photography.”
Changes to the website are just a part of what city officials are doing to improve communication with residents. Officials have also completed a goal to begin live online streaming of Taylorsville City Council meetings.
The first meeting streamed through the city’s Facebook page (“Taylorsville City Hall”), was on June 19. Live streams can now also be accessed through the overhauled city webpage, at taylorsvilleut.gov/government/elected-officials/city-council-meetings-live-stream.
“We tried this years ago, working through a system with Salt Lake Community College,” Overson said. “But it did not work very well, so we got away from it. But many Utah cities are doing this, so we thought it was important to try it again.”
Overson reports “a few of thousand dollars” were required to purchase new cameras and cables to make the broadcasts possible.
Although Granicus was not involved in the project to stream council meetings, company officials say that is something more and more cities are doing to reach out to their constituents.
“People want easy access to information,” said Evan Shrader, the Granicus project manager who coordinated work on the Taylorsville website overhaul.. “When we put the community survey on the Taylorsville home page for three weeks (August 2018), we received 104 responses. Seventy percent of responders said they access the Taylorsville webpage most frequently through a mobile device. So much of the overhaul had to do with making the site easier to navigate by phone.”
Overson said so far, she’s pleased with the improvements.
“It definitely needed a change,” she said. “The old website had broken links and other issues. Revamping an entire website is a big job. At times it was a little overwhelming. But we have just taken it step by step. It has been a good process. Everyone pitched in. We each tackled different pieces of it. I think the public will be pleased with the results.”