Eugene, OR Delivers an Engaging Citizen Website with CivicEngage

Eugene, OR is often considered one of the country’s most livable cities. Nestled between the Cascade Mountains and the Oregon Coast, the City is known for its festivals and thriving arts scene, world-class sporting events, and wide array of recreation opportunities – all with a backdrop of natural scenic beauty.

System Administrator Kimberly McCrea says community members on the whole are passionate, educated, and engaged. “Eugene is a place where people feel empowered,” she said. “Our people are very committed to the things they’re passionate about. They feel strongly and take action.”

McCrea said Eugene is committed to engaging these passionate community members in municipal issues such as designing a new City Hall building and revitalizing the downtown area. “We really depend upon our website for both providing information as well as inviting people to participate,” she said. “We want to get people involved and hear different points of view throughout the community.”

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“Working with CivicPlus has been a really good experience. Everyone is very conscientious and very responsive. Our web team is very engaged and wants constant improvement. We have lots of ideas and many of them have been implemented. We have a great partnership and we’re looking forward to continuing in the future.”

– Kimberly McCrea, Redesign Project Manager

Before CivicPlus

Eugene’s old website was fixed-width and didn’t perform well on mobile devices, which reduced their effectiveness in reaching the community. McCrea said the home page was overcrowded and the site was difficult to navigate. It was a challenge to keep events and opportunities from upstaging regular service areas, such as paying parking tickets. “I think we tried to do too much and ended up overwhelming the average person that would come to our site looking to perform a simple task,” she said. “We did some usability testing and realized people weren’t finding important information, so we needed to rethink some of our emphasis.”

From a maintenance standpoint, the previous Content Management System (CMS) was more difficult for the average user. Eugene has about 150 staff members authorized to contribute content, with varying degrees of technical aptitude. “For most people, it wasn’t their job to maintain the website, but they needed to contribute content or images,” McCrea said. “It was quite a struggle for some of them. Keeping everyone within certain guidelines is always a challenge as well.”

When deciding on a website vendor, Eugene was looking for “the whole package” and found that solution provider in CivicPlus. “We were looking for a hosted solution,” McCrea said. “CivicPlus specializes in local and municipal government and seemed to have a great understanding of some of our unique challenges. We also liked that they offer excellent support. It’s very, very good – a great ticketing system and great people that are not only technically competent, but very enjoyable to work with.” She said they were also impressed by CivicPlus’ training resources and Community Connections, an online forum where governments in the CivicPlus family can exchange ideas.

 

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“We love it,” she said. “Everyone has forgotten the old site already. No one wants to look back. Our staff loves it. Our elected officials love it. Our mayor loves it. I can’t say enough about the responsive design – the mobility aspect is huge.

Kimberly McCrea, Redesign Project Manager

After CivicPlus

The City of Eugene’s redesigned website is a better reflection of their brand. It’s modern, clean, and colorful. McCrea said it’s been extremely well-received by the community. “We love it,” she said. “Everyone has forgotten the old site already. No one wants to look back. Our staff loves it. Our elected officials love it. Our mayor loves it. I can’t say enough about the responsive design – the mobility aspect is huge.”

The city is able to connect with community members much easier now. “We have a large student population at the University of Oregon that is very active,” McCrea said. “We see more and more people using phones and tablets. To have our site available for these devices is a major improvement. We’re really happy about that. The new system also makes it easier to access and engage with our social media sites.”

The user-friendly, redesigned site is helping to reduce call volumes and has improved previous navigation issues. “We’ve worked really hard to populate the site with meaningful images, beautiful images, and also use visuals that enhance navigation to provide that emphasis we were missing in our old site,” McCrea said.

Website maintenance is much easier now, even for non-technical staff members. “They took to it really easily and like a lot of the new features, especially being able to drag and drop. Live edit in Aurora is more intuitive for general content providers,” McCrea said. “The image repository makes it easier to see all of the images that are uploaded and make sure the right logo is being used. The custom HTML widget is an unsung little hero that we love – embedding videos is a snap.”

 

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“Website maintenance is much easier now, even for non-technical staff members. They took to it really easily and like a lot of the new features, especially being able to drag and drop. Live edit in CivicEngage is more intuitive for general content providers,”

Kimberly McCrea, Redesign Project Manager

Author
CivicPlus

CivicPlus

CivicPlus is the integrated technology platform for local government, working with over 2,500 local governments including municipalities, counties, and municipal departments. CivicPlus has been selected by Inc. Magazine as “One of the Fastest-Growing Privately Held Companies in the U.S.” since 2011. For more information about CivicPlus’ innovative product suite, including CivicEngage, CivicReady, CivicClerk, CivicRec, and CivicHR, visit CivicPlus.com.

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