St. Augustine, FL Saves Time, Communicates Better with CivicEngage®
Like many municipalities, a critical administrative focus for St. Augustine is ensuring citizens can easily find the local and civic information they need.
“We are committed to educating the public about how they can get in touch with us, and where they can get information,” said Wissel.
Before the City’s transition to CivicPlus, its municipal website was not a tool that helped citizens self-service their needs, nor did it help Wissel expedite communication updates and news sharing.
“My biggest frustration with our previous vendor’s website was that it lacked a broad range of functionality on the front and back-ends,” said Wissel. “The functionality was extremely limiting.”
Wissel also experienced countless delays and times when she could have been completing other high-priority work that was instead spent, frustratingly, waiting on the City’s website content management system (CMS).
“With our previous website, the processing speed of the backend tool was incredibly slow,” said Wissel. “You’d click the save button and then wait 30, 45, even 90 seconds before the save would complete. I would spend the better portion of every day waiting for the website to update. One day, I began tracking all the time I spent waiting for the system to save. I stopped keeping track once I reached 45 minutes. Throughout the course of a week, that was hours of my time that was wasted waiting for our old website to process changes.”
Choosing to Switch to CivicEngage
Once the City of St. Augustine committed to replacing its municipal website design and hosting vendor and redesigning its website, the realization that CivicPlus was the best choice was simple.
“The CivicPlus sales staff made the decision easy,” said Wissel. “It wasn’t a hard sell. They gave us access to their developers and a sales engineer to ask questions and to the sandbox to experience how the tool works. The CivicEngage functionality was by far more robust than the other solution we were considering. The other thing that was an advantage for us was that CivicPlus has a GSA schedule. Knowing that CivicPlus is approved at the state level, from a business perspective, was a big plus.”
A Well-Organized Implementation
The City of Augustine contracted with CivicPlus to create a new website for the City with three additional department headers, and a subsite for its Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). Work began quickly—and the City’s CivicPlus project implementation team was up for the challenge.
“We were on a very tight turnaround deadline,” said Wissel. “We approached our implementation plan with a mutual understanding that we were not going to have much leeway in our deadlines, but I guaranteed our project manager that we’d complete our responsibilities on time. We knew we were asking a lot, but we were willing to deliver a lot. Our project manager maintained a visible project timeline that we referred to for deadlines and responsible parties. Our CivicPlus team never tried to use our deadline as an excuse or pressure us in any way. They were respectful of our timeline, and we all got it done.”
According to Wissel, the City of St. Augustine signed its contract with CivicPlus in mid-June and launched its new website on September 26.
Today, Wissel is saving time and working more efficiently thanks to the easy-to-use communication tools available from CivicEngage.
“Everything is easier with CivicEngage. There are modules, and widgets, and drag-and-drop functionality and a lot of database design on the backend. CivicEngage’s Calendar functionality was a big selling point for us. With our previous website, the calendar functionality was old and didn’t work very well. Every time I created an event, it seemed like there was a problem. The Staff Directory is also a valuable tool. You use the staff directory to populate your inventory of staff, but you can also use that module in other places to populate content that is sourced within it. With our old vendor, the limited module functionality was not well integrated."
Looking back on The City of St. Augustine’s website project launch, Wissel appreciates the collaboration and support of her integrated CivicPlus team.
“Our overall experience with the CivicPlus team has been very professional and well-organized,” said Wissel. “Our training team was superb, and the tech support is fantastic. With our previous vendor, if you needed tech support, it was online. You submitted a ticket and would get an email response that said, ‘Refresh your cache,’ and the issue would be fixed. No one walked you through the problem. You didn’t talk to anyone, and no one knew your name. Things aren’t like that with CivicPlus.”