Video, news highlight redesigned city Web site

By J. PATRICK PEPPER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – The city last week launched a newly designed Web site that officials are touting as easier to navigate and more intuitive than the former site.

The redesign incorporates a slicker interface than the previous iteration and has some of the more ubiquitous Web page features of recent years including YouTube-style video clips and city-related news feeds. Also part of the new design is a search engine prominently displayed at the top of the home page.

“Our primary goal is to get information out to our residents quickly in a way they want it delivered, city spokeswoman Mary Laundroche said. “The new Web site is a big step toward achieving our goal.”

Laundroche said the update was needed to meet the demands of a demographic that has changed – and grown – significantly since the site first was launched in 1999. While the old site was updated once in 2004, mainly to meet Americans with Disability Act accessibility requirements, the updates did little to untangle the maze of hyperlinks on the front page, which could make it difficult to find things, she said.

“We needed a cleaner front page to improve the navigation of the site,” Laundroche said. “Our former front page just kind of threw everything at you at once.”

All design and most of the content work was done in-house by a part-time Department of Public Information staff member. Assistance was provided by the city’s Management Information System Department, along with some technical support from a Dearborn Public Schools information technology person, made possible through a mutual agreement with the district, Laundroche said. In conjunction with the new site, officials are introducing a news alert system, which allows residents to receive updates on timely city information – like crime alerts or snow emergencies – via e-mail or text message. Residents can sign up for the service on the right side of the home page.

Still available from the old site is streaming video of city cable programming, including City Council meetings.

Residents also can download city forms from the new site, such as applications for a garage sale permit or an absentee voter application. The new calendar allows viewers to search every day of the year for events going on in the city.

To visit the new site go to www.cityofdearborn.org.

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