North Riverside will redesign its municipal website in the coming year and will look to create a meaningful social media presence as it looks for more and better ways to deliver information to residents.
Trustees agreed to earmark $7,500 in its 2019-20 operating budget to fund a website redesign, although that figure is likely to change once officials receive proposals for the job.
Website redesigns can be expensive. When Riverside redesigned its website in 2016, the village spent $35,000 on the redesign itself and another $14,000 over the next four years for maintenance and support.
“Once we identify a path and get pricing, we could come back and talk about budget amounts,” said Finance Director Sue Scarpiniti, who is village hall’s point person for the website redesign.
Scarpiniti said it’s likely the village will issue a request for proposals from technology firms, and that she expects to begin discussions about the website and social media strategy later this summer. In the meantime, she’ll seek input from village hall department heads and elected officials about what they’d like to see for the website.
The goal, Scarpiniti said is to make the website more user-friendly, that’s easier to navigate and that provides more information.
“We want it to be a better resource, and have it be more professional looking,” she said.
North Riverside’s website is at least six years old and is pretty basic. While the Parks and Recreation Department updates its calendar and offerings regularly, the rest of the site is fairly static.
Content is managed through the finance office, with department heads forwarding them information to update.
“We don’t have enough staff to devote one to the website full-time,” Scarpiniti said. “We’re looking at a change in that philosophy.”
In addition to the money set aside in the budget for the redesign of the website, there’s also $10,000 earmarked for “social media/communications support,” likely in the form of an outside consultant.
“We don’t have any social media presence at all,” said Scarpiniti of village government specifically, noting that Parks and Rec does maintain a Facebook page. “We really need to update the village and get with today’s times.”
Last year the village did attempt to broaden its outreach through a monthly email newsletter to which residents can subscribe. However, it’s been a struggle getting folks to sign up.
Social media outreach and a more user-friendly website might help get that effort off the ground.
Scarpiniti said she expects the website/social media outreach to be an ongoing effort and that it’s unlikely everything they’d like to get done will happen during the current fiscal year.
“A lot is going to depend on how intricate the village board wants to get,” Scarpiniti said.