Two Tri-Valley communities have spent the first part of 2018 updating their online presence with new websites.
Both Danville and San Ramon have recently launched newly designed websites, with the goal of making it easier for their residents to navigate the government sites and stay informed of community happenings, town officials say.
Danville launched a soft opening of their website April 30, in order to test the waters around the new platform and receive any initial feedback the community may have.
"I'm happy with it, it really catches the eye," the town's public information officer Geoff Gillette told DanvileSanRamon.com. "It's laid out in a way that whether you are a resident who may not know how to navigate through the various levels of government to get information...or a contractor or business owner who is very familiar, there are ways for both of those user groups to find what they're looking for. In as easy a way as possible."
The Danville site, designed by CivicPlus, a Kansas-based government website creation company, took seven months to create and cost a reported $30,000. The project was paid for with general fund dollars.
"It's all the same information, it will just be packaged a little bit differently," Gillette said. "We just want to make sure that the pages look right."
The Danville homepage features a variety of sections, including "News and Announcements," "Community Spotlights" and "Trending Now." The different sections allow residents to access the most recent updates and articles on town-related happenings, upcoming programs and events and the town's most recent social media posts, respectively.
The home page also features videos from the town’s YouTube channel.
Quick access buttons placed on the left hand side of every page (or on the bottom for mobile platforms) allow users to apply for a town-sponsored class, read meeting agendas and minutes, find permits, maps, subscribe for further information via email and report comments and concerns.
On the upper right side of any page are quick links to the town’s various social media platforms, which have been expanding in recent years.
"One of the initial conversations we had when talking with CivicPlus, was we wanted to make sure that our website was easy to navigate, easy to use and easy for us on the back-end, to keep updated," Gillette said.
He added that town officials are open to feedback regarding their website, and can submit their thoughts via an online form.
In addition to the new design and sections, the Danville website also features a comprehensive directory of town officials, staff and other agents.
The San Ramon website, which was designed by CivicLive Solution based out of Scotts Valley near Santa Cruz, took about seven months to design and was launched earlier this year on Feb. 5. It cost approximately $58,000 and replaced the old design which had been in use since 2000.
"It was definitely due for a refresh," said Eric Figueroa, San Ramon assistant city manager.
"The benefit of going to a third party provider is they are able to bring in practices from other cities," he added, referencing the decision to work with CivicLive. "They have done work from around the country and have gathered information from different communities on what works."
The San Ramon site has similar features to those of Danville. Both have quick access tabs on the homepage for quick information, community calendars on the homepage, scroll-down categories on the top of the homepage with information and a trending section for social media updates. Both sites also have a similar visual design.
San Ramon staff emphasized that a mobile-friendly design was of the highest importance, for residents using phones and tablets.
"People are using their mobile devices more and more," Figueroa said. "We've found that mobile devices are one of the largest ways (users) access the site."
After deciding the nearly 20-year-old site they had previously used was in need of some modernization, San Ramon staff felt they could use the opportunity to communicate information more efficiently to residents online.
"Goals were made (from) recognizing that people are getting more and more information from the web. So we wanted to make it more accessible to people, with better usability and stylistic upgrades to promote (our) content," Figueroa said.
"The site makes it easier for people to know what is going on," he added. "We are a lot more organized and well-built for showing people what is on display, and helping them find what they want."