Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

March 5, 2013

City emphasizes accessibility, better info in website redesign

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Watch the skies. Over the next three months, Jacksonville city officials will be revising and retooling the city's webpage to reflect a more 21st century feel.

The advantages? Greater accessibility to information. Being able to access the city webpage on a mobile phone. And using the website – even on a cell phone – to book camp ground reservations.

"The current website is the original one the city created around 2005-2006 and somewhere along the line it became outdated – even as more and more people were continually using the Internet to find information," explained Jordan Yutzy, the geographical systems coordinator for the city.

"We felt it was time to give the website a new, fresh, feel. The entire layout is going to be changed and you will be able to access the website on mobile devices now. The screen will automatically shrink to fit and the layout of the page will changed but the fonts will stay the same."

One big expected plus of the change – which in all will cost an already-budgeted $9,000 – is the aforementioned ability to book and pay for reservations online – instead of standing in line for drastic periods of time to book time on the Lake Jacksonville camp grounds.

In early January, people were literally staying overnight for tickets. At one point, more than 300 people arrived to make Lake Jacksonville campground reservations for 2013, spending more than $7,500 to secure reservations for July 4 and Memorial Day.

In the process they completely maxed those days out.

With the new webpage, renters can secure their reservations and pay online – again, even on a mobile phone, Yutzy said.

"This will greatly help people who want to make reservations on a Satur-day for, say, Saturday night but usually can't because the city office is closed by that time," Yutzy said.

"This will also help people trying to reserve periods on Friday after 5 p.m."

City Manager Mo Raissi explained that the existing city webpage is not capable of adding several new online necessary services to the system.

"The city staff has been searching for a while for an economic vendor who is experienced in helping municipalities," he said. "This is why the city of Jackson-ville selected ReviZe Software Systems for its ability to build a new website, for high quality on-line services for the users of the city's website, and at a very reasonable fee."

Through the implementation of a new e-Gov content management software combined with a redesigned website, the city will not only improve the look, layout and navigation, but will also provide a 24/7 Government Communication Center for residents, Raissi said.

On the ReviZe website, one mission statement indicates the company's strength in helping government websites.

"Today's government and commercial organizations face significant challenges in these days of tight budgets, smaller pools of both human and capital resources to maintain effectiveness in meeting the needs of the constituents they serve," according to the statement.

Add to this the challenge of managing " tens of thousands of documents through the normal course of municipal operations while increasing personnel productivity and lowering the cost of providing mission critical services."

It takes a very special kind of company to help deal with this problem, the site says.

Yutzy agreed the company that will produce the new website works is famous for working and developing programs for municipal entities such as Wylie.

"One good reason to go with this company is after five years they will redesign our site for free," Yutzy said. "They will help us produce a much better calendar that can keep track of important meetings such as the city council and be a lot more user friendly for citizens."

Raissi said these impending changes will equip businesses and visitors with communication tools such as citizens request trackers; the calendar of events; e-notification; the online payment portal; campground facilities and reservations; the news center platform; emergency alerts; forms and survey tools; and e-newsletter application.

In addition to layout and function change, there will be a new function that allows citizens to submit photos of Jack-sonville to be considered for online publication, Yutzy said.

The city's site address, jacksonville-texas.com, will remain the same.

"So right now we're going to sit down and figure out how this is going to look and and redo everything – including department descriptions," Yutzy said.

"We will be listing all the city departments and explaining what they do and have pictures of all the new department heads. This will include all-new and all-correct information."