Five Municipal Website Redesign Pain Points and How to Avoid Them

Written by Rachael Walker

Your municipal website is the cornerstone of your civic communications. It’s the hub of your internal administrative workflows, and a reliable resource your residents depend on. To maintain a high quality municipal website that evolves as the needs of your community evolve, local governments must align themselves with a strategic website vendor that can demonstrate a proven process for redesigning exceptionally functional, and exceptionally beautiful, civic websites.

At CivicPlus®, we’ve helped thousands of public sector entities create or redesign their websites, transitioning from inefficient and difficult to manage solutions to our modern content management system (CMS)that is a part of the CivicPlus Platform. In the process, we’ve calmed their fears as they’ve told us the pain points they’ve experienced working with previous vendors.

Having partnered with over 2,500 local government clients, ranging from smaller towns to large cities, we have the experience and expertise to know the best way to execute a redesign without the pain points. That’s why we’ve created this list of five of the most common website redesign issues experienced with other vendors, and the ways in which we avoid them—so you can too.

“We Didn’t Launch on Time.”

Don’t let your website vendor convince you that because you already have a live site today, you can take your time launching a redesign. You’re still accountable to your administrative leaders, elected officials, and your voters, all of which are anticipating the website’s improvements. Plus, a large-scale project will inevitably require your time—time from you’re already busy days, which means the longer the project takes, the less efficient you can be until it’s done.

Best Practice: Insist on being given a detailed timeline, and stick to it. A true partner will work with you to identify what steps your administration and their team will need to take separately, and the corresponding deliverables needed to launch on time.

“Our Vendor Went Out of Business.”

Make sure any solution partner you choose can demonstrate stability and longevity. A website is a long-term commitment, and too often in the tech landscape, web vendors are here today, gone tomorrow, which means your hosting, content, and tech support could unexpectedly, and permanently, be lost.

Best Practice: Before committing to a contract, make sure you are choosing a stable, established partner with years of experience. A reputable partner will maintain insurance and an escrow account, and can guarantee that your content and data can be transitioned to a third-party host as a safeguard against lost assets. Also, be sure they offer a sizable, experienced staff available to offer long-term support, guidance, and strategic advice.

“We Weren’t Given any Strategic Guidance.”

No one knows the needs of your citizens like you do, but that doesn’t mean you should be expected to architect your own website. A successful redesign project should begin with an analysis of your current website’s usability, an exploration of civic communication and engagement goals, and a foundational understanding of administrative and citizen usability needs. A vendor that attempts a redesign without a foundational understanding of your community’s unique needs can’t deliver a final product that will offer value to your administration.

Civic Tip: Choose a partner with a dedicated consultation offering. Keep in mind that consulting should be focused on the project goals, not the software. A valuable consultation service should include collaborative planning sessions with all stakeholders, and a process that ensures the results of those discovery sessions are made actionable outcomes of your website redesign.

eBook: Guide to Local Government Analytics

“Our Website Wasn’t Compliant with ADA requirements.”

Local governments are required to comply with components of the Americans with Disabilities Act that work to ensure equitable access to content and communications for all citizens. There are a variety of website designers available across the country, but choosing to work with a vendor that doesn’t understand the requirements facing local government may put your administration at risk of fines if they don’t take compliance regulations into consideration.

Best Practice: Choose a designer with experience working with local government. For more information on the latest compliance requirements that impact public sector digital communications, click here.

“We Never Received Training.”

You’ve launched a beautiful website. There’s just one problem: No one on your staff knows how to edit it. Or add a page. Or replace a photo. Or even log-in to your administrative tool. Don’t let your vendor walk away from your implementation until your new website is live and you and all your section editors have been properly trained. Even after you’ve been trained, you should have access to a dedicated account manager for strategic guidance, and a support team for troubleshooting minor questions and issues.

Best Practice: Make sure your partner offers on-site, virtual, and recurring training to help you and any new staff maintain the highest functional knowledge of the platform. You should have access to printed documentation and help guides too, but nothing can replace the value of one-on-one training.

Before you begin your next municipal website redesign project, download our free Website Redesign Planning Toolkit. Our toolkit offers everything you need to avoid these five pain points and keep your website redesign project on brand, on budget, and on time.