Who Updates A Municipal Website?
Municipalities can benefit a great deal from having their own local websites built. Not only does a website allow residents to log on and find information about anything from the town history to how to pay a water bill, but it gives municipal administrators a central place to share news. Managing a local website for a town, city or county is often a group effort, but this is not always the case. In many municipalities, the Town Clerk takes on website maintenance, since he or she is in charge of most other office administrative duties. Although the Town Clerk is often the best person for the job, you may find that another member of staff is best suited for this task. It is completely up to each individual municipality to choose who should take on this responsibility, and how it should be fitted into the normal work schedule.
What Needs to be Updated?
There are a few basic web pages that your site should ideally feature: Community News, Calendar of Events, Minutes of Our Meetings, Utilities and History. Some of these pages should be reviewed and updated regularly – once a week is a good place to start. The town’s History page can be left as is from week to week, as can the Utilities page. If any details change or need tweaking, these can be updated on a case by case basis. The same goes for any contact details and listed staff or government officials. If any information on the website is outdated, browsers will be disappointed and probably not visit the site again anytime soon.
As for regular updates to your website, you should focus on the News, Events and Meetings pages. These are sometimes featured separately; sometimes together. Whatever the case, it’s important to keep citizens informed about the weekly and monthly goings-on at your office. Share the minutes from all town meetings, and make sure they are formatted in a way that is easy to read and understand. Town events, large and small, should feature prominently somewhere on your website since they foster community spirit and may even bring visitors to the municipality.
If you aren’t sure which news or events to feature and which to weed out, put yourself in the shoes of your municipal residents and business owners. What kind of information would you want to see, and what news items? Every item that you include on your pages should be highly informative or immediately useful to readers.
Schedule Updates and Set Reminders
In a busy office, it’s easy to forget to update the local website. Without new information, news and updates, however, citizens will forego checking the website. To avoid this, it is important to schedule time for website maintenance. Set up a weekly schedule, and if possible, try to get every relevant section updated on the same day each week. Office-wide reminders should be written on physical and virtual calendars to keep everyone on the same schedule. Publishing on the same day allows different departments to confer with each other and avoid duplicating or forgetting important information.
Updates are Up to You!
The person or department in charge of updating a local website is not set in stone. Have a staff meeting, brainstorm a few ideas and see what you come up with!