"I like that the CivicPlus system is government specific. It’s not a platform you could get off the shelf somewhere. CivicPlus understands government-related services. They know what we’re looking for. When I tell them our citizens need certain functionality, they try to figure out a way to help us accomplish that. And the support is phenomenal. Very responsive, helpful, and easy to understand."
Nichole Plowman, Administrative Systems Analyst
Springfield’s old website wasn’t quite getting the job done, according to Systems Analyst Nichole Plowman. It was self-hosted, static and difficult to use and maintain. They were using web design programs that required technical expertise which proved to be challenging for some departments. “Many employees thought it was too difficult, so either the content became outdated or the projects got pushed on the public information department,” she said. “Also, there was no approval process, so when anyone made an update it was automatically published, whether it was done correctly or not.”
The site’s navigation was another big issue. Finding things from a user perspective wasn’t intuitive and updating any navigational changes on the back end was a cumbersome process. “Our old templates didn’t update the way they were supposed to, so every time we added a new page, we had to add that new link to multiple pages throughout the site,” said Plowman. “It was really a huge problem.”
The City also wanted a responsive design and a mobile app that both citizens and staff could access on-the-go, as well as a hosted solution that ensured their website was secure, backed up, and available 24/7. They were also looking for a tool that allowed them to rapidly build online submission forms and offered an easy way for citizens to sign up for news and information.
Springfield decided it was time to upgrade. After considering the available options, they chose CivicPlus.
The City of Springfield loves the “light, airy feeling” of its new design. Not only is the site pleasing to the eye, but it’s also much easier for users to find what they’re looking for. Haase said the public response has been “really positive.”
Their previous maintenance issues have been solved by the CivicEngage content management system that allows staff of varying technical aptitudes to easily make changes. The system automatically updates the site navigation when new pages are added.
“Saving drafts of pages and the approval process is very simple now,” Plowman said. “One thing I really like about the new system is the workflow. The departments can make changes to their own content, but we get a notification before it actually goes live, which is very helpful. I also love that permissions are customizable, so if some departments are capable of direct updates, I can set them up to direct publish and not affect the others that need approval.”
The City is also thrilled with the mobile-friendly, responsive design features. “It’s very easy to update anywhere, at any time, on many different devices, since CivicPlus hosts the service,” Plowman said. “The admin site is very intuitive and easy to use.” Haase agrees. “That’s one of my favorite things about the system. You’re not chained to your office to do web updates. We can do that from home, or anywhere with internet access. With the News Flash module, we can push out news releases and citizens can sign up easily using NotifyMe.”
Citizens seem pleased with the increased accessibility as well, and often use the City’s mobile app to report concerns, which has increased citizen engagement. “We get a lot of interaction from people who want to address a particular issue,” Plowman said. “In recent years, the call volume to our citizen resource center has tripled. Having an app for people to upload that information has been helpful. We’re getting more responses online and through the app now.”
The Form Center module is another engagement tool the City has found useful for collecting information from citizens. It’s also made it easier for developers to place bids and apply for permits online, which is an area Springfield is looking to enhance even further.