Town website to enter new era with new address
GREENWICH — Visitors to the town’s website will find some changes as of noon Aug. 8.
First off, the website will no longer be at www.greenwichct.org — as of that day, the new domain will be www.greenwichct.gov. And that will not be the only change: A new look and new features will also be on display.
“The goal of the new website is to create a modern, branded, unified web presence,” Tom Klein, the town’s chief information officer, told the Board of Selectmen on Thursday morning. “We want to provide a platform for departments to share relevant news and content with the public. It’s really about opening it up with not just one or two people to manage the website, but many, many departments.”
More than 40 town employees have been trained as “content stewards” for the website, Klein said, including those who work for the environmental affairs department, the Greenwich Fire Department, the tax collector and assessor’s offices, voter registration and Parks and Recreation.
Everything will be done under the supervision of a digital content editor to keep the site uniform, compliant and useful.
“Content is the most important piece of the website,” Klein said. “You go to the website for content. Our website currently has more than 200 sections with almost 3,000 web pages, 2,100 documents and 700 images. It’s a very big website in terms of content and that content needs to be relevant. Technology won’t make content relevant. You need people to do that.”
The additional stewards will help maintain the website and add up-to-date content, he said.
“It won’t be that in August we’ll be saying, ‘OK we made our changes. We’re done,’” Klein said. “It’s now a living, breathing website where these same content stewards can change things. … We’re trying to make everything more relevant by getting people who are closest to the content be able to directly change it.”
Klein gave a presentation of the new website at Thursday’s meeting, showing off its new look and new features. It is the first — and most visible — part of a larger Integrated Town Hall initiative that will be unveiled over multiple years.
The selectmen did not have to approve anything Thursday — the $65,000 spent on the project was originally budgeted in 2016.
First Selectman Peter Tesei offered a positive review of the new website in advance of the official launch.
“We’re pleased we’re further modernizing and facilitating information,” Tesei said.
Additional features will be unveiled on the website soon, and Klein said the redesign is only the first step. Photo slideshows, forms and newsletters will be added to the website in late 2018 or early 2019. In the fall, Klein said he expects the Think Greenwich app, which will allow residents to report problems to the town, to be integrated into the site.
Other future developments include personalization and online permitting and beach cards.
Work on the new website has been underway for years. A user survey conducted from July to September 2016 found concerns about how content was presented and how it could be found.
Taking those findings into account, the redesign began in earnest in 2017.
The new version of the town’s website will be the fourth official one for Greenwich.
The current site has been in place since 2012. It will not be available anymore but will be archived at Town Hall for the staff if needed.
The new website will be user friendly for laptop and desktop users as well as on mobile devices, Klein said.
Civic Plus, which only builds municipality websites, including those for nearby Norwalk and Scarsdale, N.Y., is working on the new Greenwich site.
“It’s not as though we’re taking something and trying to customize it for Greenwich,” Klein said “We’re taking something that’s used in 2,700 different municipalities as a platform and making it work for us by training content stewards to take a step up and really make content relevant.”
Email addresses for employees and elected officials will not change and will continue to use “.org.”