Town officials said this week that the re-launched municipal website is on track to go live in May.
Designed to be more useful and interactive than what New Canaan currently has, the new site will live at the same Web address, newcanaan.info, and its features will include increased online bill pay functionality, a more robust “news” section, sign-ups for various kinds of alerts and tie-ins with town-operated social media accounts.
Those in municipal government helping to design and train on the site are “engaged” and “excited,” New Canaan’s director of information technology, Chris Kaiser, said during Wednesday’s meeting of the Technology Advisory Committee.
Discussions about the look and navigation of the site, as well as its color palette and featured photos are ongoing, Kaiser said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. And while all the data that lives on the town site’s thousands of Web pages is “migrated” over to the new one, “we are in a stopgap where anything going to the old newcanaan.info site is held” and will be part of the re-launch.
Appointed in February 2018, the five-member Committee—Chairman Randy Dalia, Secretary Jeff Platt, Michael Abbott, Paul Pureka and Annamari Mikkola—has been studying the use of technology generally by the town government, with an eye on making it more efficient, cost-effective and convenient for residents. The re-launched website is one of its high priorities.
The town contracted with website vendor Revize for $12,000 for development of the site, and will pay a $3,500 annual maintenance fee, officials have said. Well-known New Canaan-based brand marketing firm Nurenu also is consulting on the project.
A mockup of the future site, which is not yet being made public, shows a sleeker, more modern website that features areas for forms and documents, meeting times and agendas, jobs and a detailed calendar widget that appears to allow visitors to get snapshots of community events as well as public meetings.
Kaiser said each town department will have a primary and backup individual who is trained extensively in operating the site, and that its development has gone smoothly.
“So far really not too many curveballs—yet—we haven’t seen many,” he said. “And little hiccups smoothed themselves out and we just press on and whatever it is, we just make sure we get it done. We know what we’ve got to do and how we’ve got to do it.”
Pureka said that New Canaan will benefit from having continuity in the migration, noting that Systems Administrator Sal DeLucia had been the webmaster of the existing site.
“He knows the thing upside-down and he has done a good job,” Pureka said.
The committee talked about specific areas of the new site—such as the prominence of a promotional video for New Canaan—as well as about strategies for marketing it, ways to encourage some municipal departments to do their part in preparing for the relaunch, email notifications such as through Constant Contact and the town’s use of social media.
On that last point, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, a guest at the meeting, asked for Committee members’ thoughts on the relative importance of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Though some said a town Instagram channel may not be as useful in getting information to locals, it could be very important in serving tourists to New Canaan. Moynihan said he would speak to his counterparts in other area towns to find out who is using social media well and how they’re doing it.
The site relaunch also came up during a press briefing held Thursday in Moynihan’s office at Town Hall. There, the first selectman said the target date is May 15.