Riverside trustees voted 5 to 0 on May 19 to hire a firm to develop a new village website in order to upgrade Riverside government’s ability to communicate with residents and make public information easier to access.
While the board approved a spending limit of $35,000 for development of a new website, it appears that the board will be spending another $14,000 or so during the next four years for the firm, CivicPlus, to provide annual website maintenance and support, host and secure the website, and redesign the website in 2020.
“Improving communications and improving transparency to the public was part of our goals for this year,” Village Manager Jessica Frances told members of the village board on May 19 prior to their vote to fund the upgrade.
Riverside received website development proposals from 16 vendors, with prices for a new website ranging from $7,500 to $59,000 and total costs over a four-year period ranging from $12,000 to almost $90,000.
CivicPlus was not the low bidder, but Frances ruled out the two lowest proposals, saying one lacked municipal experience and the other failed to issue a complete proposal. One of the deciding factors in choosing CivicPlus, said Frances, was that their fees in future years included a website redesign in year four as part of the package.
The firm also included consulting services as part of the package, said Frances, and the company will analyze data to see what kind of information users are looking to find on the village website, so that can be emphasized.
“We opted for the consulting services to decide how to make the website more effective,” Frances said. “I think that’ll be huge. We can look at analytics and see what people are actually looking for.”
CivicPlus’ work includes designing websites for the villages of Roselle, Oak Brook and Lombard. Each of those sites differs somewhat, emphasizing different aspects of government service.
For example, Roselle and Lombard have highly visible buttons where residents can report concerns, obtain village meeting information, pay bills or get news updates. Oak Brook’s website prominently features a community calendar of events on its home page.
A comprehensive community calendar is something Frances said she’d like to see be part of a new Riverside website. Frances said she plans on communicating with business groups, schools, the library and other organizations “to have a true community calendar where residents can see what activities and meetings are going on.”
The website likely will also prominently include a feature called “Riverside Responds,” a work order management system where residents can register concerns or complaints and can then track the village’s progress in addressing those complaints.
“Residents will get updates until the task is completed,” Frances said. “It’s a way to make sure residents are informed and that we’re responsive as a village.”
The website will also continue to include online bill payment and GIS map information.
The new website will also incorporate the new branding elements, such as the village’s new logo and color palette, which is in the final stages of development by a marketing firm called Point B Communications, which was hired by the village’s Economic Development Commission.
The firm reportedly has presented the village with 15 logo options. The new branding elements are expected to be rolled out to the public soon.
Frances said it will take about six months to complete the analysis and design for the new website. The hope is to be able to roll it out by the end of 2016.
The village’s present website went live in 2005.