Is it Time to Update Your Municipal Website?
Are you considering updating, improving, or redesigning your municipal website, but are uncertain if now is the time? This article highlights some of the most common signs that a website is in need of updating, in some cases it may be a small adjustment, and in others, it could require a full website redesign. If you find your website does need a redesign, we're here to help! At the bottom of this page, you can find more details on how we can help.
As a municipality, it is essential to ensure your website is safe, providing comfort to your residents and ensuring that important documents on the website are secure. Website security can often be detected directly in the URL, symbolized by an exclamation mark inside of a triangle (as seen in the image). This warning sign indicates that the website is not providing an encrypted connection, which means the information is more at risk if someone were to try to access it.
Information is Not Easily Accessible
There are many ways to tell if your website is inaccessible and difficult to navigate, some of the clearest signs include:
- Community Outreach: Are you finding your residents are frequently emailing or calling your office to ask questions about the information that is available on your website? If so, that is a sign that the information on your website is not easy enough to navigate.
- Session Time: If you're utilizing Google Analytics a helpful tool is looking at the session time statistics and session time/page statistics. These will tell you how much time your users are spending on the website and on each page, if you are finding extended periods of time being spent, it could indicate the information is challenging to locate.
- The 3-click rule: We at Upanup always encourage using the 3-click rule. This rule ensures no piece of information on the website requires more than 3 clicks from the home page to get to. If it takes more than 3 clicks to find a piece of information, that information may be too buried.
Information is Not Up-To-Date
It can be difficult to keep your website constantly up-to-date, especially for smaller municipalities with small teams dedicated to the website. While difficult and sometimes tedious keeping the website up to date is crucial for ensuring your website is effective. Having a combination of updated and outdated content can create confusion and a lack of trust in the updated content while contributing to increased navigation difficulty.
If it seems like keeping your current website consistently up-to-date is too large a task, it may be time for a website update. A website update, especially through a vendor, will result in a full website clean-up, on top of receiving a more streamlined template will make maintaining your website going forward a lot easier and less time-consuming.
Poor Visual Appeal
The visual aesthetic plays a large role in the functionality of a website, users correlate visual relevance with content relevance. This means if your website looks outdated, residents, tourists, and businesses will assume the content is outdated as well, and not take the time to seek the information they need. A good practice is to compare your website to other municipalities and look to see if theirs look more inviting, easy to look at, or better layout.
Long Loading Times
A powerful website is a fast website. If you're noticing load time for the website or various pages takes longer than a few seconds it may be an indicator that your website needs an update. Slow loading times can discourage website usage as it can be frustrating and time-consuming for your residents. Some contributors to slow websites are:
- Storage too full: while websites can hold a lot of storage, years of posting news, events, updates, and changes and archiving old content can add up. It's beneficial to clean up old irrelevant content to reduce the load on your system.
- Images: Images are great but can eat up a lot of storage, especially if you're using large media files. It's recommended to clean up old media content that is no longer needed, and ensures new media content is properly formatted.
- Slow backend system: If you're using a content management system (CMS) that is outdated it can cause a significant slowdown. A website update is a good opportunity to also update your CMS to the most current version. I.e. Drupal 7 -> Drupal 9.
Still unsure? We're here to help!
With Upanup we offer a complimentary assessment of your website and provide feedback based on improvement options you can make with associated costs. These recommendations can be anywhere from improving your current site, to providing a newly updated website, whatever makes the most sense for your municipality. With a wide variety of options and flexibility, we are confident we can find the right solution for you. To learn more check out our CiviKit website templates to see how your website could look with a fresh redesign or reach out to us directly to learn more about how we can help you!