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By Erin Glanville

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About this blog: While state and federal politics dominate the headlines, local issues have an enormous impact on our everyday lives. This blog will attempt to shine a light on topics of public interest and facilitate greater participation in the ...  (More)

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Live! Menlo Park’s New Website

Uploaded: Apr 21, 2014
The City of Menlo Park has gone live with a redesigned website that the city hopes will provide residents, city officials and staff with enhanced and user-friendly functionality. Implementation of this extensive redesign was project managed by Clay Curtin, Assistant to City Manager Alex McIntyre. The process took approximately 4.5 months and it involved moving over 2000 pages of existing web content that had been originally created using Dreamweaver back in 1995. After considering three vendors who specialize in local and state governments, Menlo Park's city staff chose a company by the name of CivicPlus to handle its content management system. CivicPlus has been in operation for more than a decade and has approximately 1,700 municipal websites as clients.

The City of Menlo Park's website is an important tool. It receives about 50,000 visitors per month and more than1 million monthly hits. New features of the site, which went live to coincide with the new Activity Guide's registration process, include:

• Notify Me, an automated email and text notification system that allows users to subscribe to city related updates such as news flashes, calendar events, meetings, and job opportunities.

• The ability to submit a request of the city or to report a problem (e.g. a pothole) online and then tracks the progress of that request.

• The OpenGov transparency tool, which I reported about back in February, will enable users to review the city's revenue and expenses and parse the data in a clear, graphic format. Graphs can be quickly and easily captured and downloaded or communicated via email or text. The city will provide month-over-month rolling data going back five years.

• A customizable toolbars to more quickly access relevant information.

• A section for "New Community Members" with information on the basics for getting started living in Menlo Park (e.g. utilities).

• Easier to find information/ navigation. (e.g. If you've ever tried to navigate to Menlo Park's Historical Society on the old website—which had a less-than intuitive housing under "Library" – you will appreciate the new approach.)

• To initiate conversations with city officials and staff, the redesigned site boasts a new feature called "Speak Up" which is somewhat similar to The Almanac's Town Square. Users can publically raise issues with or without using their name. Residents will continue to be able to access CCIN, the City Council online email log, which will retain the older familiar format.

The redesign is still far from over. Curtin says Menlo Park plans to continue to work on how to consolidate some of the back end systems in an effort to reduce cost and redundancy. On the front end, the city will be continuously monitoring which documents (e.g. new fiscal year budget documents) are most frequently requested and will make those easily findable for users as part of a regularly updated FAQ. He says the city's team will continue to work on better organizing website information in order to reduce the number of "layers" users must weed through. Curtin also wants to make more city forms available for processing online.

In summarizing the months-long redesign effort, Curtin concludes: "Overall, I'd say we wanted to make it more visually appealing, add more functionality and most importantly, keep the end user in mind. As with any new website, there may be a few glitches that need adjustment over the next few weeks, so please bear with us. We'll be adding more content in the coming days, weeks and months, and have exciting plans for the continued enhancement of the site."

With a budget of $75,000 for the redesign, Curtin and his team managed to do something that all users are sure to approve of before they even check out the new site: they came in well under budget at $49,600.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Dagwood, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 8:54 am

It is not clear that all the same information from the old web page is here, such as commission members and many key people in the city. It is not clear where all the important project-related content has gone, like 500 ECR, Facebook, etc. The site looks incomplete. If anyone finds such stuff, let us know.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Adina, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 9:04 am

Adina is a registered user.

I can't find the Rail Committee page. I sent a note to the City Clerk.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Dagwood, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 9:15 am

I was using a pad, and the web site is incomplete there. On my laptop I saw most stuff from the old web site. With so many people using pads or mobile, this needs to be fixed. Even on the laptop, I noticed some email links were not live.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Dagwood, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 9:15 am

I was using a pad, and the web site is incomplete there. On my laptop I saw most stuff from the old web site. With so many people using pads or mobile, this needs to be fixed. Even on the laptop, I noticed some email links were not live.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Dagwood, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 9:15 am

I was using a pad, and the web site is incomplete there. On my laptop I saw most stuff from the old web site. With so many people using pads or mobile, this needs to be fixed. Even on the laptop, I noticed some email links were not live.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Menloshopper, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 9:20 am

The color scheme is not the old green associated with 'Tree City USA', it looks generic. The old site, whatever its flaws, had its own appealing look. It would be useful to know what group of users this was tested with.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Erin Glanville, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 9:27 am

I've sent Clay Curtin a message to check out the comments here on some of the issues Almanac readers are finding. Many thanks for reporting them/ commenting and providing a running list.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:46 am

Website is buggy.

You are here: HomeBad Links
We're sorry, but there is not a web page matching your entry.

You entered: ca-menlopark.civicplus.com/Authentication/Popup?redirectUri=/CommunityVoice/SimilarIdeas?ideaTitle=Ban the use of Round-Up, herbicides, and pesticides in our Parks&parameterSet=&callingHost=Web Link

Click here to go to the home page


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Clay Curtin, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Erin, thanks for the story. We're very excited about the new website and I'm sure there will be some growing pains in the beginning. I would remind anyone that us trying to use saved bookmarks or shortcuts they've saved previously that these will need to be updated. In looking at where the referring pages are coming from it appears that many people are using their previously saved links.

The great thing about this site is the ability to login and use the MyDashboard feature that let's you choose which items (calendar, agendas, etc) you want to see right upfront. There's a news item about this on the homepage in case anyone wants more information.

We'll continue to refine the site over the next few days (and into the future). For anyone who needs assistance with the new site, please feel free to contact me.

Clay Curtin
Assistant to the City Manager
cjcurtin@menlopark.org



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