Ontario revamps city website
ONTARIO, Jun 20, 2012 (San Bernardino County Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
In this digital age, a website is not only necessary but vital for a business to be successful.
But for a city like Ontario -- which touts itself for operating in a business-like manner -- its website wasn't doing the job.
The last time the website had gone through a major upgrade was 2005, which can be viewed as antiquated by Internet standards.
In late 2011, the city contracted with Webworld Technologies to change that. The Florida-based company had experience revamping other municipal government sites.
Along with a new sleek and modern interface, switching to a user-friendly, content-management system provides city staffers with a luxury to post content directly to the site.
And because most people nowadays access the Internet via their phones, a mobile component was created for the city's website.
"These were things we weren't really getting with our older system," said Elliott Ellsworth, Ontario's information technology director.
In the past, in order for content to be updated on the website, most of it had to be done by IT.
If a staffer from another department wanted to post on the city's website, Ellsworth said they had to be knowledgeable in coding because the older system did not have a user-friendly, content-management system.
"It was also very limited for our web developer to do updates," he said.
Webworld worked with the IT staff to build about 70 percent of the pages and the remaining 30 percent of the pages were built by Ontario staffers, Ellsworth said.
The new system provides city staffers with the ability to not only create but revise content before it is published.
It will also free up Ellsworth and his department to handle other IT-related issues now that city staffers from each department can make changes to the site.
"We're going to that web-based format," City Manager Chris Hughes said. "Technology changes quickly and we wanted to make it easier for residents to go on and get the service they needed."
One of the city departments that benefits the most from the upgrade is the library, which is constantly posting information on its community events.
Library Director Helen Fisher said the new look has already drawn positive feedback from patrons.
Fisher and Barb Gonzales, a senior library assistant, who had been designated to update the content for her department, welcomed the change.
"When they told us we did a dance," Fisher says. "We were really happy. There was a lot of good content on the old site but it wasn't as organized and as easy as we do now."
It also provided an opportunity for Fisher, Gonzales and library staffers to review all the content that was related to the library.
"We looked at it all and deleted repetitive content. We wanted to make sure it wasn't information overload," Fisher said.
Improvements also benefit the public, Gonzales said.
On the city's home page there is a calendar listing for upcoming city events.
In the past, the calendar wasn't a live link.
Now, if a user clicks on the listing it will direct them to a page with event details, Gonzales said.
Another new amenity for the public is an e-notification system that allows residents to sign up for email updates on any city department.
Most of the content has not changed on the city's site, but the new system allowed the city to do some necessary updates, such as streamlining the process for posting the agenda for City Council meetings.
Reach Liset via email, call her at 909-483-8556, or find her on Twitter @DBOntarioNow.
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