Municipal Website Considerations

For municipalities, townships, and other forms of government, having an online presence is critical to the mission of these organizations to serve not only their residents, but prospective residents too.  As is with most organizations, an online presence is not limited to only a website; rather it’s a combination of website, online tools, and social media working in unison.  

Today’s municipal website services the needs of both the current resident and the prospective resident, and it also can be a valuable internal tool for the mayor, council, police, and township staff.

Online services, such paying parking tickets, looking up ordinances, and applying for zoning permits are just a few of the many features of a township website.   Allowing residents to utilize these online tools can lighten the burden on township staff by reducing phone calls and decreasing foot traffic at the borough offices.  By delegating these traditionally manual tasks to the online user, you make municipal tasks for the resident more convenient and lighten the load of your staff.

For prospective residents shopping for a house or school district, township websites can provide a wealth of information including demographics, school data, locations of medical centers, and median prices on housing.  Marketing your township is just as important as serving your current residents.

There’s no better way to drive resident traffic to your municipal website than social media, more specifically Facebook and Twitter.  Some municipalities use Twitter almost as a reverse 911 to communicate short timely messages to those who subscribe.   Because Twitter, and Facebook, have such a large user base, many residents are already using one or the other or both, so it’s easy to acquire followers.  Social media allows you to push messages to the residents (rather than with a website where the residents have to pull information by making a visit), and in doing so, consequently drive traffic to your website.

Just as a public-facing municipal website can serve the needs of the residents, a private website accessible to only the township staff can be an extremely valuable tool.  The mayor, council, and others can privately share documents, agendas, calendars, and other internal information in what is commonly called an Intranet.  Efficiencies can be introduced into the process of governing by creating a private portal where government officials can digitally collaborate.

All this said, there are a myriad of ways to build and launch a municipal web presence.  There are turnkey solutions and custom solutions.   And although many municipalities share many commonalities, not one conducts the business of government the same as another.   Turnkey solutions will reduce time to launch, but may not satisfy all of the requirements of the municipality.  Custom solutions will satisfy all of the requirements of the municipality, but maintenance will be more time consuming and expensive down the road.  Data Blueprints can help you decide which solution is best.