DH city council considers review of city website

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — The usability of the city’s website was the primary item among topics city councilors felt the council should look into at future meetings.

Councilwoman Janet Badalow introduced the topic of website review at the special session Oct. 16, stating that she has received numerous calls from residents having difficulties trying to find information on the city’s website.

“People call and ask me if something is on the website, and I end up getting online to walk them through the procedure of getting the information they need,” Badalow said. “Things are not easily found on the website.”

She said the council should do a review of the website, which was designed and is maintained by E-Gov Link, to determine if improvements can be made to make it easier to navigate.

E-Gov Link is a Cincinnati-based company that specializes in website creation and management for local governments.

Badalow said the website at the least needs to be reorganized and have a search window so that visitors can type in the information they need and be redirected quickly.

Councilman Ned Apigian said the idea of improving the website was sensible, but worried about the cost of implementing any changes.

“This doesn’t sound like a cheap thing to do,” Apigian said. “But this does seem like something that will be necessary going into the future. We just need to decide how much money we would be willing to spend on this.”

Councilman Joseph Kosinski said the cost was important, but council really needed to find out the extent the website was being used by community members.

“What is the depth of the usage of the whole system?” Kosinski said. “If it’s not going to be used, except by high tech people, I don’t see a balance that would allow us to spend the money on it.”

Badalow and Apigian agreed that the city should have video footage of council meetings available online for residents who can’t attend or watch a meeting to view whenever they want.

Apigian said the council needs to place the footage and other documents online because they have an obligation to the community to make the information easily accessible by residents.

“This is an issue of transparency,” Apigian said. “Whether the public uses it or not, we have to make the information readily available. I don’t think the number of people who are going to use it is the biggest issue. We have to make the information available.”

Council President Kenneth Baron said the council will continue to look into changing the website and will possibly have a study session before a future meeting to learn more options about what can be done.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)