News

Town’s plan to revamp website moves forward

Friday, September 14, 2012

By DANIELLE CURTIS

Staff Writer

BROOKLINE – Town officials are moving forward with plans to revamp the town’s website next year, looking for web development firms to work on the project.

Selectmen revisited the idea to build a new town website, first discussed at a July meeting, at their Sept. 4 meeting.

Town administrator Tad Putney said while the board still plans to wait to fund the project in next year’s budget, it was important to get a jump on planning, so price estimates could be determined and there would be enough time to plan for the spending.

Last week, Putney sent out requests for proposals to about eight website design firms, asking for quotes for their services.

The town is looking for a company to help build a new website, organize the more than 10 years worth of documents stored in the current one, and place that information in the appropriate content area on the new site.

“We are going to use the balance of this calendar year to get some proposals in, do some more research and be able to fold this into the budget for next year,” Putney said. “We’re hoping that by March we have a new website up in time for the town elections.”

Whichever company is chosen by selectmen also would be asked to stay on as a resource for the town, to aid in website maintenance or technical issues when needed. How much the design and maintenance help will cost the town is not yet known, Putney said.

But this summer volunteer webmaster Lynne Abt told selectmen the cost to build the website would be about $5,500, with a potential for thousands more in maintenance costs in future years.

Abt suggested the town move its website to a content management system, which would allow individual departments to easily add their own information to the site. Each department would be able to edit their section of the site by a simple log-in on the website.

The site also would feature a dashboard, which would allow a staff member in charge of managing the site to edit content throughout the entire site.

While Abt said there are free resources to create this kind of website, like Google and Yahoo, but suggested using a host site called Joomla, which charges for set-up.

Still, Abt said she believes the town would get its money’s worth, saying Joomla has ample online resources for users and local user groups where staff could troubleshoot any problems by talking with other site managers.

“It requires some up-front costs for set-up but it will serve the town’s needs for quite awhile,” she said. “And it will allow the town to more easily get into its transparency efforts.”

Danielle Curtis can be reached at 594-6557 or dcurtis@nashuatelegraph.com.

Also follow Curtis on Twitter (Telegraph_DC).

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