News Local

Town of Cobourg reboots its website

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today

COBOURG -- Today is the day the Town of Cobourg launches its newly redesigned website.

At council's committee-of-the-whole meeting this week, communications officer Ashley Purdy explained why there is a new design just 18 months after the last redesign.

As well as a simple need to keep up with the latest trends and technologies, Purdy said, "Individuals base their first impression on online presence."

A Stanford University article she cited said that about 75% of people judge credibility solely on the design of a website.

When she applied for her job, Purdy added, she checked out the website the town had at the time and almost reconsidered her application.

eSolutions Group Inc. did a redesign, which was launched in May 2016. Now there's an even newer redesign.

Public engagement guided the process, with an online 17-question survey that got 55 responses.

"I can tell you that the feedback we received was extremely helpful -- it was very thoughtful," Purdy said.

Reasons respondents listed for liking the 2016 site included a good search engine, a community calendar they could subscribe to, agreeable font and accessibility across all platforms.

Asked what they disliked about it, they responded with words like "too busy," "overwhelming" and "cluttered."

Among the top things respondents looked for on the site were the event calendar, public notices, council and committee information, and Cobourg Community Centre programming, as well as information on bylaws, elections and the library.

As a result, Purdy said, they have developed clickable icons for easy access to this information -- a preferred method over drop-down menus and navigation links. Now, for example, clicking on the recreation-and-leisure icon will connect a user to the Cobourg Community Centre.

Users can sign up to subscribe to receiving press releases directly in their own e-mail inboxes instead of checking in at the website on their own.

The search feature is powered by Google, but it was in an out-of-the-way corner of the screen. It has been moved to a more prominent location.

Still to come is the Have Your Say feature, which will be added later.

"The colours are more in line with the municipal-branding look and feel," she said.

Council congratulated Purdy on the project.

"I am a real believer in continuous improvement, because nobody can get it right the first time around," Mayor Gil Brocanier commented.

"These are great ideas, and I will get up early Nov. 15 to see it," Councillor Debra McCarthy promised.