Select residents will soon beta test Nanaimo’s new website.
The City of Nanaimo has hit the refresh button on its nine-year-old website, redesigning it to make it more mobile friendly and easy to use.
Change has been in the works since 2014 on the website, a project of about $96,000, and city councillors got a sneak preview Wednesday of what could be launched in late spring. Volunteers will also get to check out the new site and offer feedback before it rolls out to the general public.
The website improvements are aimed to be more mobile-user friendly. In January, 40 per cent of site visitors were on a mobile phone and 12 per cent on a tablet. Those users have a decent experience on the current website but it would also look different to them because it’s stripped down to mostly text, according to Ross Collicutt, senior applications analyst at the City of Nanaimo.
“It’s fast, it still is useful, but it’s not got the nice graphics, the nice look to it that the new site will have in the mobile experience,” he said.
Improvements also include larger text, plain language and new homepage. Drop-down menus will open more slowly and are larger with more area for people to move a mouse around. Another feature is a search engine people can use to find information on major projects in the city.
Collicutt is excited about the look of the new website.
“A lot of the feedback we’ve gotten so far has been that it’s cleaner, it’s certainly updated from what we’ve had before,” he said.
During a finance and audit committee meeting Wednesday, Coun. Bill Yoachim said that since economic development is being started in house, if people want to do business in town, he wants to make sure there is something splashy and enticing, “like come here and do business; we’ll make it work for you type” and didn’t notice that.
“This isn’t a critique, this is phenomenal. It’s great by the way,” he said.
Mayor Bill McKay said research on advertising and marketing says where the eye first goes to and first impressions and he finds it to be like a lot of other websites, “somewhat clinical, institutional,” as opposed to the City of Calgary’s website, which is in your face and trying to give impressive views of the city.
Speaking to the News Bulletin after the meeting, he said he did more research and found other cities are going to the model the city has chosen. He wants to work with the homepage a little more, but also said he’s fine with it if that’s where everyone is going.
Vancouver-based Graphically Speaking was involved in the project. The city intends to hire a digital content specialist, a new position, who will oversee the website.
An information meeting for members of the public interested in testing the new website is March 28, 5-7p.m. at the Service and Resource Centre Boardroom, 411 Dunsmuir Street. People are asked to send an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.