It is once again the time of the year where communities in need of an online overhaul get their chance to stand up, puff out their (metaphorical) chests and proclaim, "We need help!"
For a decade now, CivicPlus has been answering this call to action with its "Extreme Website Makeover" contest.
That's right, it's crazy to say it, but CivicPlus' EWM contest is now in its 10th year, and it's just what it says it is...a makeover of a community's website.
But this isn't about some chance at a free website (although that's a nice perk for the Grand Prize Winners). The heart of the EWM contest is to give those communities that have a true desire to engage their citizens digitally but - for whatever reason - have struggled to find the budget dollars a chance at a fresh start.
The importance of governments interacting and engaging with citizens in a digital manner has never been more underscored nor more misunderstood, as detailed in CivicPlus' recent study, "Digital Disconnect: The Gaps Between Government-to-Citizen Online Interactions."
Citizens want to be able to reserve a local facility or pay a parking ticket or find out what's coming up for discussion at your local council or commission's next meeting. You, in turn, should want your citizens to be able to make suggestions, give ideas, or submit issues through your website.
These are great ideas, right? For some communities, taking that step is not always easy, so we at CivicPlus try to do our part to make it so - by offering a way to act on these great ideas by having communities apply to win a new website. All you have to do is fill out a simple form!
But we couldn't let a 10-year celebration go off without a twist. This year, we want citizens to nominate their community websites for the makeover as well!
Whether its a concerned citizen or a government staffer, we want to know what you would absolutely love to see on your dream community website. Maybe you'd like to have an online forms center or a transparency portal, so folks can see how their tax dollars are being spent. Or perhaps an Alert Center so people can be notified when there's an important and time-sensitive issue. Or you would absolutely think Christmas had come early if you had a Citizen Request Tracker or robust Calendar tool on your website.
Dream big, people! Get your citizens to nominate your community today! The more, the better. After all, a government website is in place to provide a service to citizens, so they should be involved as much as possible.
As for the particulars of the content, finalists will be named on Nov. 28. That's when we will announce the real fun begins! The finalist communities will then take part in a three-step qualification process:
- They must take CivicPlus' 6 Stages of Digital Community Engagement Assessment to score their current website’s functionality.
- The community must post a link to CivicPlus' Digital Citizen Engagement Survey on their current website to gain feedback on what citizens want and to allow citizens to nominate their community for the prize. The more citizens are involved in nominating their community, the better.
- They must complete an interview with a CivicPlus Representative.
If you are one of the 12 Grand Prize winners, your community will receive:
- A Premium CivicPlus website with custom design, full development and three days of on-site training, for free.
- The first two years of annual fees will be waived.
And that's not all! If you are a runner-up, you receive a $5,000 discount towards your project development fees of a CivicPlus Premium website.
So what are you waiting for? Come on, you are burning daylight! Enter now! This offer won't be repeated (Well, at least until next year)! So come on, folks. It just takes a few seconds and it could earn your local government a brand-new, shiny, feature-filled, forward-looking website!
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