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Bethlehem to make website more user-friendly

$25k redesign to focus on social media, functionality

Nicole Kibodeaux, of web design firm Civic Plus, presents options for the town’s new website design to Town Board members.

Nicole Kibodeaux, of web design firm Civic Plus, presents options for the town’s new website design to Town Board members. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— Bethlehem officials are looking to redesign the town’s website with an eye towards reaching a broader audience through use of social media.

On Wednesday, April 10, the Town Board approved a contract to allow the Kansas-based company Civic Plus to redesign the town’s website. The site was last updated seven years ago, according to town Director of Information Services Jeff Dammeyer.

“The new website will save time on the part of town staff, while giving us better communication abilities and a higher standard of accountability to the public,” said Town Supervisor John Clarkson.

Dammeyer said he had been looking into an upgrade for the site for some time. With the emergence of smartphones and the growing use of social media to obtain information at the local level, town officials want to better integrate the use of those technologies within the redesign.

On the new platform, each time a town official updates the website messages will automatically be sent out to the town’s social media accounts on services like Facebook and Twitter. The site will also be reformatted for smartphone displays, and a free Town of Bethlehem application will be available for download within Apple’s iTunes store.

The cost of the project is $25,000, with a future annual maintenance fee of $4,000. Funds for the project had already been set aside in the 2013 budget.

The redesign is also promised to simplify navigation of the site and help residents more easily reach the information they are looking for.

A tool on both the website and mobile application will include a request and complaint tracking system. Residents will be able to notify the town about subjects such as potholes or code violations immediately, and the messages will automatically be sent to the correct department. Another feature called “My Dashboard” will allow residents to create a login account, and then customize the site by picking the types of town information that most interests them.

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