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In the News: New Redmond website is on its way

New site expected to provide more information

By Leslie Pugmire Hole / The Bulletin

REDMOND — It’s been awhile coming, but sometime this winter, the city of Redmond expects to launch its new website.

“The staff is super excited (for the launch),” said Heather Cassaro, communications manager for the city. “They just want to know when.”

The goal of the new site is less to promote Redmond, which the chamber of commerce already does, and more to make city information easily accessible for residents and those who do business in the city, she said.

When the 2012-13 budget was developed, $35,000 was set aside for the new website. But a prolonged city manager search delayed the project.

“When David (Brandt, Redmond’s previous city manager) left, the project was kind of put on hiatus,” Cassaro said. “It’s a primary communication tool, and we wanted to make sure everyone was on board with what it will be like.”

After working with a website development firm since October, Cassaro said the new site was expected to go live as early as February. The website is being designed with better search engine optimization, key to keeping Web searchers from landing on websites related to Redmond, Wash., when searching for Oregon’s Redmond. The new site will be optimized for mobile devices as well.

A 2012 survey of city employees reported only 10 percent used the website, finding it either not user-friendly or not useful. A 2013 survey of city residents, with an average of between 500 and 1,000 responses, found more than half had used the city website within the last year and said it was a satisfactory experience. An even higher percentage had read the city’s newsletter, distributed with utility bills.

“That was the biggest surprise to me; our community’s dependence on print media,” Cassaro said. “But our job is to communicate with our residents in multifaceted ways, to tell our story in any way we need to.” The newsletter will continue, she said, but with a more targeted message than in the past.

The city’s survey showed that citizens used Redmond’s site most often to pay bills and utilities, with searches for city codes, events, meetings and reported crimes following in smaller percentages.

According to Cassaro, she’s been working with department heads and other city staff to find out what each department wants to make available on the site and what departments want the community to be able to send them. In that role, Cassaro says she often puts on her Redmond resident hat, telling them as a community member what she would like from the city’s Web portal. She has mentored staff to understand how they can become active participants in the city website.

Mike Caccavano, city engineer, uses the city website frequently but calls it “quite cumbersome” with difficult uploads and connections. Ideally, the engineering department will have interactive maps online to better communicate about upcoming city projects, he said. And ease of use will be a welcome addition, Caccavano said.

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About Vision Internet
Headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., Vision Internet is a national leader in government website development with more than 500 government, non-profit and education clients in U.S. and Canadian communities with populations that range from less than 1,000 residents to more than 5 million. The company creates cost-effective solutions that increase government efficiency, transparency and interactive communications with citizens. Over the past 17 years, the company has earned hundreds of prestigious awards for its unique websites, including numerous 3CMA Savvy Awards. In 2013, Vision Internet launched visionCMS™, a powerful, easy to use content management system developed with feedback from hundreds of municipal clients.

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