|North Adams Preparing to Launch New Website|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
02:15AM / Thursday, August 13, 2020
|The new site will be ADA compliant and have responsive design. |
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is finally getting a new website designed to be far more user-friendly than the current one. It's set to be launched on Aug. 24.
The city's website is more than a decade old — ancient in internet terms — and hasn't had much in the way of upgrades since.
"The current city website has a lot of shortcomings. First and foremost is security," said Mark Pierson, the city's chief information officer. "The site is very vulnerable, it is hard to navigate, it is not modern at all. You cannot resize this for a tablet, a phone, it's very clumsy."
He told the City Council on Tuesday that editing the site is extremely difficult, the content management system is limited, it has a lot bugs and is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, something the city is under order from the Department of Justice to fix.
"We have to get outside help to anything with the front page," he said. "And oftentimes the site crashes, leaving the site down for most of the day."
He described the new site as "slick" and easy to navigate and it also translates to tablets and phones. It features an image of the downtown with navigation links for home, government, business, residents, visitors and help at the top styled like the city's new hexagon logo.
In the middle are the most commonly used menu items like calendar, meeting and notices, payment center, contacts, and special areas like COVID-19 updates. Also included is a link to where documents related to governmental meetings will be posted. It has the attributes of most websites nowadays with a search bar, popup alerts and social media sharing.
It's also fully compliant with ADA so those with impaired vision can navigate the site and find the information they need.
The builder is Revize of Troy, Mich., which also redesigned the city of Pittsfield's website in 2017. The cost was $20,240 and includes support for the first year; the annual maintenance and support cost is $2,400 per year, beginning in the second year of the contract. This includes servicing and content backup, and built-in redundancies and security so the uptime rate should be 100 percent.
The build was authorized last August and was expected to launch around March but the COVID-19 pandemic "derailed it," said Pierson. Once staff was able to be get back into City Hall months later, "we hit the ground running," he said. "I also want to give a shout out to [Administrative Assistant] Michelle Ells who did a lot ofwork on this site."
In response to questions, Pierson said the payment portal is the same, it just has a better and larger visual.
"I think it looks great, I like the setup," said Councilor Marie Harpin. "It looks like it's easy to navigate."
Pierson said the launch is set for Monday, Aug. 24, to ensure the IT Department will be on hand smooth out any issues rather than trying a weekend debut.
The original site was built by the former Agency BCM, which had been a sister site to iBerkshires.com.