The Village of Arlington Heights is creating a new Village government website that will merge the official website vah.com with discoverarlington.com — the official Discover Arlington website that serves as the business and community marketing website for Arlington Heights. The new combined website is expected to be launched in Spring, 2017.
The design goal of a new website is to be “citizen-centric” instead of centered on Village Departments and functions. According to the Village of Arlington Heights, a “citizen-centric” website will be designed in a manner that is more understandable from a resident’s perspective and will be easy to navigate, will offer online features for submitting Village forms, permits and payments, and will provide residents with easy-to-use citizen engagement tools for accessing the resources and services that residents need and want.
Earlier this year the Village of Arlington Heights selected Civiclive (Civic Live) to redesign our current website. Civiclive has been designing government websites that emphasize easy accessibility and engagement for 15 years, but has a smaller visible portfolio than American Eagle of Park Ridge — the designer of both of the existing websites — vah.com and discoverarlington.com.
The Village has been working for about one year on this redesign, doing extensive research on comparable municipal websites, studying eight years of analytics on how the current website is being used, learning of users’ frustrations with the current website, and choosing various customer service friendly tools designed by Civiclive that will be integrated into a new website design. The current design was complicated from the start, is not mobile friendly, and is now outdated.
A complete revamp of the existing vah.com website was first mentioned for the proposed FY2015 Budget with $75,000 included in the proposed budget for the project. The Discover Arlington website is mobile friendly and already has a better design than vah.com.
The complete revamp of the website was rebudgeted in the Technology Fund at a cost of $75,000 in the adopted 2016 budget. The budget mentioned that the current website not include user-friendly navigation, fillable forms, and interactive meeting calendar, or online permits. On the backend, the current website does not have content management features and templates that allows input from various village departments. The current vah.com website also lacks technology that is compatible across all technology platforms, according to the budget report. The vah.com website was rolled out in March 2009. The current discoverarlington.com website was launched in late 2009/early 2010.
CivicLive touts Accessibility and Legal Compliance, Usable Design, and Government Specialization as specialities of its web design business.
The Village of Arlington Heights hopes to use the new customer-service friendly tools and modern design principles to showcase the Village of Arlington Heights as an organization that emphasizes serving its citizens more effectively, efficiently and conveniently. The goal of the new design is simplicity with use of more images and icons and less text. Accessibility and mobility are a priority, and a prominently featured search function is also emphasized for the new project. According to the Village of Arlington Heights, the design philosophy is putting the Arlington Heights community first.
Once the website is launched, the Village will track website analytics and survey user satisfaction. According to the Village of Arlington Heights, changes and enhancements to the site may occur based upon results of the information gathered.
Input from residents, businesses and visitors who use the Village website or Discover Arlington website will be very helpful as the Village continues to create the architecture for the website and makes design decisions regarding features and integration with social media. Analysis of user feedback will help the Village of Arlington Heights decide how to organize and display information and features.
In order to help with the design process, Village of Arlington Heights is requesting users complete the following survey:
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