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City's new website will go live soon

Come this weekend the city of Rosemount's website may get a new look. It may come next weekend too. Either way, sometime in the next month residents should expect the city's website will change.

This past winter the city council hired Kansas-based CivicPlus to redesign its website. Since then city staff has worked with the company to create the new site.

Communications director Alan Cox said the new site will offer improved services over the current site. The most significant change, Cox said, is that the new site will make it easier to find information.

"I think it has some real improvements in usability," Cox said.

Enhancements include a version of the Rosemount site for smart phones, a system that allows the city to post alerts, an option to collect payments online and a module that allows the city to return to showing meetings live on the web, among others.

Working with CivicPlus will also allow the city to dump its current contract with a vendor for bulk email services, which will save the city $2,500 a year.

The city will unveil the website over a weekend to try to make the transition seamless. Cox said according to the company most will get the website in 24 hours but they will give 48 just to make sure.

One reason the city chose to go with CivicPlus was because the company continually updates and offers new technologies without additional costs. The cost for the new website was a nearly $25,000. That includes the redesign and the first year of service.

Cox said the new site will include an easier way to inform public works of needed repairs. Additionally, the site will have the capability to stream meetings live, though that may not be available immediately.

It will take time for residents to get used to the new site, but Cox said he hopes residents will find easier to use. To ensure the site is working in the interest of residents, Cox said they will use a module to get people's input on the site.

"We want feedback. It's an ongoing process and we will try to be responsive to requests," said Cox.

The council made it a goal to improve its communications with residents. Part of that goal is improving the city's website so it is more user-friendly and offers more to residents. Several cities in the area use CivicPlus as their website provider, including Burnsville and Apple Valley.

The city's previous web provider was GovOffice. The council decided to go with CivicPlus because of limitations in GovOffice offerings. Issues included design limitations, lack of live video-streaming, limited function for smartphones and tablets and uneven record of updates and improvements.

The city has had a website since 1997. In 2005 the city paid for a partial redesign of the website. The design has not changed since.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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