City launches revamped website

December 4, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Issaquah municipal government entered the 21st century Nov. 28, and ditched a difficult-to-navigate city website for a user-friendly portal meant to connect residents to government services.

The city launched the website after a monthslong effort to remake the dowdy image projected by the old website. The updated website is meant to speed users to oft-requested information — Pickering Barn rentals and bill payments, for instance.

The overhaul ranked as a high priority for the City Council, and members authorized up to $125,000 for the website overhaul. The point person on the project, Communications Manager Autumn Monahan, said the project is likely to come in under the $125,000 budget once the final project cost is tallied.

Staffers chose CivicPlus, a Kansas-based company behind more than 900 local government websites nationwide, as the contractor for the makeover.

On the Web

See the city of Issaquah’s overhauled municipal website at www.issaquahwa.gov.

The emphasis on the remade website, www.issaquahwa.gov, is to provide online customer service, and the focus is less on municipal departments and more on municipal services. The homepage features sun-splashed images from throughout Issaquah.

“We really wanted a warm, inviting feel for our website, so we looked for warm colors,” Monahan said in a Nov. 27 briefing to the Committee-of-the-Whole Council. “We focused a lot on images — beautiful photos of our community.”

Gone is the text-laden, photo-scarce website of old.

The remade website — unveiled to applause from the council — includes a modular design and homepage links to popular features included throughout the portal. The search function is tied into Google and residents can file automated citizen action requests for assistance.

The website is also designed for users to easily share content through social media, or email or print pages. Residents can sign up for emergency alerts about natural disasters or inclement weather.

Developers also created a mobile app for the city. The app is available for the iPhone, and CivicPlus is creating apps for other mobile operating systems.

Monahan said the city intends to add more video to the website in the coming months. Officials intend to hire a webmaster to manage content, by shifting dollars for a position from the municipal Information Technology Department to the Mayor’s Office.

The makeover received positive feedback from residents in the days after the unveiling, Monahan said in a post-meeting interview, and some already filed automated requests for assistance.

“The idea is to give as much on the site on the homepage as possible without overwhelming the user,” she said at the meeting.

The website launched several weeks after officials unveiled a remade municipal logo developed by CivicPlus. The salmon-centric logo — developed for about $7,000 — is featured on the website.

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