By Cole Parkinson
Those checking out the Municipal District of Taber website over the last several days may have noticed a significant change to the page.
After several years of the same design, the M.D. of Taber website has had a major facelift that should help navigation of the page as well as bring everything more up to date.
“We’ve had a website at the M.D. here for a number of years. We’ve used custom applications, we’ve used all types of content management systems (CMS) so they these things come in blocks of time. One CMS is good for three or five years, a new one comes out five, six years later and then they get more powerful and responsive, things like that. We get a new chance to do a facelift, a brand new look and feel. We get an opportunity to reorganize our sites and make them more functional,” explained Bryce Surina, director of GIS and IT at M.D. council’s regular meeting on Oct. 29.
One of the major upgrades needed for the newest design of the website was around content.
As the M.D. continues looking at better ways to communicate with their residents, including the introduction of their South Central Alberta Regional Notification System last month, they are furthering that initiative with the new iteration of the website.
“It gives us a really good opportunity to look at our content and so we talked about that. The website is a really good communication tool in itself so we look at the design of our website and decide how we deliver that information. It is so important how we lay that out for the public and it also gives us the opportunity to give us some new tools. We added the quick links bar so that should be items that are used regularly by the public. If they are not, we do provide an opportunity to give us feedback. That is a critical piece to running our website and we encourage feedback,” continued Surina. “Our home banner, I know it may seem simple but we have a really nice graphical interface there and we get to show some of our highlights. As we go through, we are going to make sure we don’t miss those opportunities.”
The quick links bar, which is located at the bottom of the screen when visiting the website, has links to service requests, applying for fire permits, online mapping, meetings and documents, the staff directory and submitting an agenda item.
Along with those links, ways to connect with M.D. of Taber social media accounts is also located at the bottom of the page.
Another big portion of the redesign for the M.D. comes in the form of a mobile app, which is now available to download on both Apple and Android devices.
While both the website and app have been rolled out around the same time, Surina explained that they aren’t exactly the same.
“The mobile app, not to be confused with the website, they are not identical replications of each other. The app is meant to be on a mobile device, very much like that quick links bar. It has all the common content on there that is frequently used content from our website is on the app and then a link to our website. The idea is the app is very quick to launch and you get all of the key functionality and then you can refer back to our website with a link. It also has all of our notifications.”
With service requests featured on the quick links bar, Surina also explained how much additional content was added in that regard.
“Service tracker is available from either application so it is fully integrated. We have 25 external requests currently so we have some great feedback there. It is all feedback from the public, whether it is requests for a service of some sort or a fix of some sort,” he said.
Considering both the app and website have just recently been updated, not nearly enough data has been collected by the GIS and IT team. Moving forward, they plan to present council with a better idea of how people are interacting with the website.
“I do plan to have, for my November update, much more information in terms of October data. We are going to try and do them mostly and hopefully it will give a better visualization of what that content looks like,” added Surina. “We did have a suggestion in terms of posting some how-to videos and we are working on those currently. We are going to be doing a set of notes for the public, kind of a don’t forget this and these are the key things. We hope that will help and then a how-to video to go along with it and guide them through submissions so they can think about the process a bit more.”
The M.D. of Taber website is located at mdtaber.ab.ca.