Don’t you hate visiting your town’s website with your iPhone, having to work your thumbs just to get from one page section to another? North Bergen feels your pain. That’s why they relaunched their municipal website Sep. 6, not only to be more mobile-friendly, but to better organize content and services.
“The website was designed over 10 years ago,” explained Art Schwartz, the town’s public information officer, and a former Reporter employee.
“The site was designed specifically for computers. It was not mobile accessible; that’s a significant issue. We made it more mobile accessible and streamlined it so everything is at your fingertips.” Photo galleries will also be phone accessible and downloadable, he said.
Schwartz worked with website vendor Alpha Dog – which also works for Guttenberg, Union City, and West New York – on this revamp over the last four months. It comes as part of a larger project on the page, he said.
“We’ve been working on the website for over a year, streamlining it, adding new content, new pages to make it more active and engaging for residents,” Schwartz said. “Over the past year, it’s grown significantly as far as becoming more active. More articles, more photo galleries; that’s been working more towards making the contact more accessible.”
“The site was designed specifically for computers. It was not mobile accessible.” – Art Schwartz
Getting info faster
Content is now more visible and quickly accessible for residents.
“Right up front, when you access the site, they’ll be new quick links to report potholes and send notifications of where the potholes are,” Schwartz explained in one example. There will also be quick links to paying property taxes and parking tickets online. Some quick links even go beyond North Bergen, and include one to the Hudson County Alliance to End Homelessness.
The website’s calendars have also undergone a renovation. Previously, the calendar combined both town events and meetings.
The new site, however, allows users drop down options to display events or meetings separately. Another drop down box allows for displaying only certain meetings on the calendar, such as Board of Commissioner meetings and Traffic Advisory Board meetings. There’s also a separate calendar for senior citizen events.
“It doesn’t make sense to have different calendars and have to chase down various rabbit holes to find information,” Schwartz said. “All the calendars are under one tab now.”
He added, “Instead of everything being crammed onto a home page, there are tabs and buttons to find what you need.”
Getting out critical information faster was another impetus for the site work. A sign-up link for NB Connect, a town emergency alert service, is now the first thing you see when visiting the site. Connect allows users to receive alerts via email, voicemail, or text. In situations such as storms or evacuations, it’s a critical tool for residents. Though it has been on the site for a few years now, the town wants as many registrants as possible.
“People should not be like, ‘Oh, there’s a storm tomorrow, I should sign up,’” Schwartz said. “Even if you may know a storm is coming, you don’t know if a pipeline may break. We want to tell people that. With Connect, we can reach out to specific localities and say, ‘Here’s what’s happening. Here’s what you need to know.’”
He said Connect was useful in informing residents after major storms in Feb. and March this year. Schwartz also said the site changes are part of a larger effort to give information to locals as efficiently as possible.
“We’re not done,” he cautioned. “It’s a major improvement. But it’s a work in progress. We’re growing. We added Facebook and Twitter accounts for the town this year (which now feature a Most Recent posts section on the site) The site will continue to grow.”
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org