January 14, 2014 8:39 am
Butte-Silver Bow County is launching its new website Wednesday, Jan. 15.
The Butte-Silver Bow website underwent a complete redesign process that started more than six months ago, when the city-county contracted with CivicPlus, a website provider that specializes in local governments. Over the next several months, CivicPlus worked with a team of Butte-Silver Bow staff to develop a new look for the site and a software framework that makes the website much more interactive and open to public input, and allows staff from the many departments and programs of Butte-Silver Bow to more easily provide updates and current information.
“We’re excited to offer Butte a new and improved way to connect with the Courthouse and engage with local government,” said Chief Executive Matt Vincent.
In mid-October 2013, the city-county hired its first Online and Public Information Administrator, Justin Ringsak, to develop content to fill-in the new site framework, provide training and support to city-county staff to utilize the site, and to manage the site and keep it current moving forward.
“The web moves fast, and Butte-Silver Bow has been relying on a site that is about six or seven years old,” said Ringsak. “That’s an eternity in internet time, so basically our online presence was pretty outdated, with no compatibility for mobile devices and few opportunities for interaction. The new site has more accurate and comprehensive information, as well as a cleaner, easier layout to navigate.”
Entirely new sections have been added to the site for visitors, businesses, and community members looking for specific government services, like birth records, permitting information, or property tax information.
“Those new areas are important for our community to give citizens easy access to government services, and to present a positive image to visitors and potential investors,” Ringsak commented. “Our old site sees more than 10,000 unique visitors per month, and more than half of those visits are coming from places outside of Butte. So it was important for us to add content for those groups, along with improving the quality of information and opportunities for Butte-Silver Bow citizens to participate in local government.”
There will be a short presentation highlighting the new site at the Council of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, January 15. Butte-Silver Bow will also hold open training sessions for members of the public interested in learning more about the new site and how to use some of its features on Thursday, January 16. The sessions will be held at the Butte Public Library Main Branch, 226 W Broadway St on the third floor from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Moving forward, the city-county is planning future open training and support classes to help Butte citizens and local businesses improve their online presence and web skills.
Some of the new features available on the city-county site include:
• New and up-to-date information on the many departments and services of Butte-Silver Bow;
• Notify Me, an automated email and text message notification system that allows citizens to subscribe to different topics and groups to receive regular updates on meetings and news from public boards and commissions and local government departments;
• Connections to State and Federal government online information and services;
• Submit a Request, an application that gives residents the ability to request specific city-county services, like road repairs or animal control services, and to track the government’s response to their service request;
• Comprehensive, searchable Calendars listing government meetings, community events, and other important dates, organized into easily accessible categories;
• The Transparency Portal, a single page that gives citizens direct access to public meeting agendas and minutes, budget information, Butte-Silver Bow municipal code, voting and election information, city-county planning documents, and much more;
• Forms to apply for city-county services and permits that are downloadable and, in some cases, can be completed and submitted online.
With the new website the City-County of Butte-Silver Bow will be able to increase its community engagement and enhance the communication between residents and the local government. And there will be more to come throughout 2014.
“Right away the new site will give people the option to renew a vehicle registration, order a burn permit or order a birth certificate directly online, and by the end of this week we’re rolling out an online payment option for water bills,” Ringsak said. “We will be launching additional online services throughout the year, so Butte residents will be able do things like sign up for sports leagues from our Parks and Recreation department, file for city-county permits, and complete other government-related tasks without any need to come up to the Courthouse. The web today is a social place that is always changing and evolving, so the new site will be a constant work-in-progress.”
“We’ve already come a long way toward giving Butte-Silver Bow a top-notch online presence,” Vincent concludes. “And I think that with this new site, we just might have the best web presence of any city or county in Montana. And we’re going to do everything we can to keep making it better.”
(2014, January 14). Butte-Silver Bow's new website launches tomorrow. The Montana Standard. Retrieved from http://www.mtstandard.com