Wilmington wants to better connect with residents through new website

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Screen shot of the new homepage of the City of Wilmington's website.
Screen shot of the new homepage of the City of Wilmington’s website.

WILMINGTON – Jobs. Police. Trash and recycling.

According to Google analytics, these are the things Wilmington residents searched for the most on the city of Wilmington’s website. Now they are displayed more prominently on the redesigned site, which the city launched Monday after six months of planning and development.

“The public survey we put out (earlier this year) and the numbers from Google showed us what people were looking at most,” city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said, adding that city services and jobs were the most popular things people were looking for. “Those analytics helped us determine what was placed where on the new site and what people want to see more.”

Aside from the placement and prominence of certain categories, Talbert said the biggest change is that the city’s website is now more accessible across multiple devices.

“The most important thing about the new site is it’s mobile friendly for phones and tablets,” Talbert said, noting most people access the Internet on mobile devices rather than desktop computers or laptops. “

Talbert said having a mobile-friendly site makes it easier for the city’s official website to show up on Google searches. It’s also more compatible with the way most people are getting to the site now, which is through social media.

 Talbert said links to the city’s accounts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, among others, are easily visible on the mobile version of the site.

“We want to promote that,” she said. “We want to engage more with people in that way.”

The three city departments that have social media presences – parks and recreation, the Wilmington Police Department and the Wilmington Fire Department – also have live feeds from their individual accounts on their pages on the new website.

Some of the most searched for categories are highlighted on the City of Wilmington's new website.
Some of the most searched for categories are highlighted on the City of Wilmington’s new website.

As part of the streamlining processes, Talbert said the number of individual pages on the website was pared down from 1,500 to about 500. The staff directory has also been redesigned to make it easier to look up city employees and their contact information.

Things survey takers said they liked about the old site, such as videos, photos and information about city projects, are all still present.

Since the website has only been live for a few days, not much feedback has been received yet from the public. Adjustments, Talbert said, are still being made.

“We have heard internally from staff,” Talbert said. “As part of the new design, we also have a new content management system to manage the site, and people seem to find it easier to use, especially for those who aren’t as familiar with inputting things onto a website.”

According to Talbert, the cost for the redesign, hosting and training for the first year is $66,691. Hosting, licensing and support for the website will be $32,326 annually for the remainder of the five-year contract. Wilmington City Council approved the plan in January.