The Village of Arlington Heights announced the launch of a re-designed website (vah.com) on Friday, January 27, 2023 on Facebook after posting the news on the official website on January 25, 2023. The news announced that website navigation has been improved, but it might take users some time to adjust. Gone is the village hall clocktower artwork from the website title — replaced by a very generic ‘AH’ inside a circle, which is reminiscent of default profile initials you might see when you don’t use a profile picture and some web service automatically chooses your initials.
Also, the slider that features rotating images connected to highlighted articles has been eliminated.
We look forward to being able to serve you and provide you an improved user experience. We appreciate your understanding and staff will be working to improve our site even further.
Thank you for your patience!
— Village of Arlington Heights
The Village of Arlington Heights alerted residents, stating, “if they were familiar with the Village’s old website, some differences might be noticed.” According to the Village of Arlington Heights, the new website features include …
An enhanced user experience
Easy to use navigational menus
Improved mobile responsiveness
Improved search results, easy to use navigation menus, and improved mobile responsiveness.
Implementation of ADA preferences
Re-designing a website is no easy task, especially with the number of functions, features and information involved in a website for a large municipality.
The deeps links that CARDINAL NEWS checked still had the same URL structure or resolved properly (e.g., Pay Bill Online, submitting a FOIA request).
News articles on vah.com have dates on their teaser on the front page, but are missing from the area just beneath the title of the article when users open the articles. For example, on the front page Sunday there is a title for the article announcing the new website that includes the date (January 25, 2023), but while a reader is reading the article, the date is not visible under the title.
The fate of news articles on vah.com may be a little unsteady. An article titled Arlington Heights Rebranding Project is no longer available on vah.com, and a search of ‘rebranding’ yields no search results — “No keywords found. Use a different keyword or click one of the other search tabs…”
Some content seems rushed or a little strange, and it is likely there are still some items on the punch list to correct …
Using the search box at the top of the page, a search for ‘communicable disease’ did not find the page titled ‘Communicable Disease.’
The path to the Communicable Disease page is …
Home: Residents: Public Safety: Emergency Management: Communicable Disease
Oddly, the Communicable Disease page does not mention COVID-19.
The Communicable Disease page mentions Pandemic Flu, Seasonal Flu, and Avian Flu, but on Sunday, January 29, 2023 the Communicable Disease page did not mention the terms COVID-19 or coronavirus. The pandemic section does not mention the occurrence of a pandemic in 2019, 2020 or 2021, but does mention the 1918 pandemic (H1N1 virus then known as Spanish flu or the Great Influenza epidemic, US Navy link), a 1957-1958 pandemic (H2N2 virus then known as Asian flu), and a 1968-1969 pandemic (H3N2 virus then known as Hong Kong flu).
A search of ‘COVID-19’ in the search feature at the top of the page yields search results that successfully lead to COVID-19 resources.
A search of Groot successfully refers users to the Collection Schedule on the official village website, but does not include holiday schedules, and does not provide a link to Groot’s official website, and does not mention whether holiday schedules might be listed (as an article, for example) when the time is right.
Menus at the top of the page are still unwieldy with too many referrals to pages. The “How Do I” main menu lists 33 referrals. Better practice would probably be to link to one list page which could probably handle even more than 33 referrals more efficiently.
Discover Arlington is no longer a separate website, but the DiscoverArlington.com web address refers or forwards users to the Explore page (vah.com/explore). Better practice would have been to mention in the introduction that the Explore section functions as the former Discover Arlington. Residents that haven’t been involved in executive meetings or board meetings would not be aware of the change involving DiscoverArlington.com.
Since there recently have been printed materials or downtown banners with the Discover Arlington phrase, it would probably be better practice to title the page Explore (Discover Arlington), at least temporarily.
The Discover Arlington Heights Facebook page still exists, but there is no mention of the changes made to the discoverarlington.com website or the vah.com website. The Facebook page still links to DiscoverArlington.com, as of Sunday, January 29, 2023. However, the vah.com/explore page doesn’t link to the Facebook.com/DiscoverArlingtonHeights.
Connections to social media are a little weak in some areas. The police department page on vah.com does not have a link the official Facebook page or the official Twitter account for the Arlington Heights Police Department. The Arlington Heights Fire Department does not have active Facebook or Twitter accounts. For clarification, the Arlington Heights firefighters’ union Local 3105 does have an active Facebook page (Facebook.com/AHFF3105).
The latest website design was built by revize, a company located in Troy, Michigan that specializes in government website design.
The revize web design company is the third company to provide web design services since Randall Recklaus was named village manager in 2014. The first company was American Eagle of Park Ridge, which was selected before Randall Recklaus became village manager.
The Village of Arlington Heights launched a re-designed website in 2017 after choosing Civiclive (Civic Live) to take over web design for vah.com in 2016. Civiclive experienced serious technical difficulties on several of its websites, including vah.com in February 2021. The Village of Arlington Heights website was down with an outage lasting four days, and came back online Tuesday morning, February 9, 2021.
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