City of Steamboat Springs revamps its website
April 13, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The city has revamped its website to offer a more attractive format, online payment options for water and sewer bills, and other features new and in the works.
The redesigned http://www.steamboatsprings.net features photos at the top of each page, simplified drop-down menus and a cleaner appearance, with prominent links to frequently sought items and a large icon that leads into the new electronic bill payment system.
"Not only can you pay online, but you can choose to get your bill electronically," Steamboat Springs Finance Director Deb Hinsvark said.
City water and sewer customers also can choose to have their bill paid directly from a bank account, or set up an online account to view and track billing history, she said.
Mike Schmidt, the city's information systems manager, said the site's redesign uses the Drupal open source content management system and has been in the works for about four months. He said the effort was at least partly spurred by negative comments about the site's previous format, which was text heavy and sometimes required circuitous navigation to reach certain items.
"We were receiving feedback from citizens, council members and staff that it was not appealing to look at, for one, and that it did not track well and flow well," Schmidt said. "There were certain instances where people would get dead-ended."
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He said the new design is intended to reduce clutter and redundancy.
"The over-arching principle was to make it more intuitive and more appealing," Schmidt said. "I'm hopeful that we have accomplished that."
He said the redesign was done internally and cost the city about $7,500, which he described as about one-tenth the cost of recent website overhauls by other mountain communities that used an external consultant.
The city has sought external services, though, for its ongoing $500,000 software overhaul orchestrated through Caselle, a Utah-based provider of government accounting software. The software overhaul began last summer and is designed to increase efficiencies for internal finances and transparency for the public.
New financial software from SIRE Technologies, also based in Utah, allows scanned city documents to be transferred and stored online. Hinsvark has said that change will speed up and improve the city's accounting practices.
The city website's new design should provide a better portal for the city's continuing efforts to improve online accessibility to documents, data and city services.
Hinsvark said city staff is working with the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department to set up online payments for fees for that department, as well.
"Hopefully they'll get it ready in time for summer camp registration," she said.
Also planned is a function for online tax submissions so local retailers can pay sales tax online. Hinsvark said that service could be ready by June.
The city's software overhaul and website redesign has been a somewhat fluid process, though — in August, city staff projected online water and sewer payments would be available by October. Online sales tax payments were projected to be available by January.
"The point of the new (design) is that it's more friendly for our citizens," Hinsvark said. "Right on the front page, it talks to them better."