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At Monday’s C.O.W. Council meeting, Karen Mayfield of eSolutions group presented her plan to create a new web site for the Town of Cobourg to replace their tired and sad current web site.  She said all the right things and was a great salesperson for her company.  Based in Waterloo with branches in Waterloo, Ottawa, Toronto and Fredericton, eSolutions is obviously competent to do the work and their price is within budget at $76,200 plus HST (plus $4,200 per year for three years for support).

Karen’s presentation was strong on generalities such as “navigation is important – no more than 2 to 3 clicks to get anything”; “the site must be two way” (that is, accept inputs) and “content is king” including how it’s written.  Training will be given to staff to help them write clearly [some will have to unlearn bureaucratese].  Karen described the writing technique the way many would describe how good journalists write.

karen mayfield Karen Mayfield She gave assurances that the new site would be accessible (per regulations now coming into effect) and be “responsive” which means it adapts to any screen shape or size.  It will provide for subscriptions so users can be advised of changes and news.  Missing were specifics on streaming or recording of Council meetings and exactly which technology would be used although they appear to use Microsoft server technology.

Their web site promotes a product that targets Governments so they no doubt have a large amount of the underlying software already written but Karen did say she had lined up a local photographer to provide genuinely local photos.

The presentation outlined the process to be used which had a strong emphasis on upfront deign based on customer and user input.  To get this input, there will be a public meeting November 30 at 10:00 am in the citizen’s forum in Victoria hall.  Although it was called a public meeting at the Council meeting, the Town today announced that it’s more of a focus group to help develop the “sitemap”.  The announcement said:

What is a Sitemap? A sitemap is a textually organized model of a website’s content that allows users to navigate through the site to find the information they need.
Focus Group: Sitemap Discovery

Time: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. – (3 Hour Session) [Date not mentioned but Facebook did say Nov 30]
RSVP: Registration is required – please RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This is a smart move since in the end a web site is judged based on user opinion.

One of the Councillors asked: how long do web sites last? (Sorry, I did not record who.) Karen answered honestly that given how fast technology changes, they are good for 3 to 5 years but are useable for 10 years.

When deliverred in the summer of 2016, the site will be:

AODA Compliant (Accessible)
Ready for All Devices (e.g.. Smartphone, tablets, desktops etc.) and include

  • Calendar - Events and Meetings with subscription feature
  • Poll Module - Quickly create polls, receive real time results, and review past polls for future reference.
  • Cobourg Town Council I Meetings, Agendas, Minutes
  • News - Public Notices and News. Subscriptions and Integration to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln
  • Parks and Facilities - Public subscription to facilities and park closures
  • Contact Module - Connect by Mail, Email, In-Person and Social Media
  • Bids & Tenders - A Simple e-Procurement Service
  • Photo Gallery - Showcase Cobourg Places, Spaces, Events
  • Social Media & Share Tools - Email to a Friend, Share to Facebook, Twitter etc.
  • Google Site Search - Predictive with Advanced Search and Filters
  • A Content Management System with Built-In Workflow that allows Staff to Take Control of the Website
  • A Scalable Infrastructure for the Future

Sounds good.

Council passed a motion that the contract be awarded to eSolutions. [Update] This was ratified at the regular Council meeting on Nov 16.

 

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