The new website, which the city "soft launched" Monday, is available at beta.cityofpaloalto.org. Unlike the prior version, which can still be accessed at www.cityofpaloalto.org, it is loaded with a wide array of multimedia features, videos and options that allow users to customize their experience.
The two sites will both be available for the next 60 days, the city announced. During that time, the city will consider feedback about the beta version of the new site and make further tweaks as needed.
The multi-year effort to overhaul the city's site was conducted by staff and a dozen community volunteers known as the Website Advisory Committee. The committee will be officially recognized by the City Council in the coming weeks, City Manager James Keene said Monday.
Bob Harrington, a member of the committee, lauded the city's decision to get the community involved in the redesign.
"To their credit, the City responded to website concerns by inviting citizen-volunteers to help improve the site," Harrington said in a statement. "The Committee was formed ... and it's paying off."
The new site's homepage greets visitors with a video in which Keene and Chief Information Officer Jonathan Reichental describe their vision for the new site. Reichental, who is leading the city's multi-pronged social-media effort, called the new site a "virtual community of Palo Alto" — one that becomes more valuable the more people use it.
"It should be a place in which, when there are updates to progress, when there are issues to be discussed, this is a place where the information can be stored and get possibly debated," Reichental said in the video.
The site also includes links to other videos, the city's agendas, budget documents, local nonprofit groups and city departments.
Keene said the rise of social media in recent years has given the city new opportunities for informing residents and getting their feedback. For the next 60 days, residents will have a chance to offer feedback on the new site before the new site becomes official.
"The day of one-size fits all is actually long over for consumers and the same is true for government," Keene said in the video. "Social media in particular allows us to build a much more individuated connections between our residents and the city."
Talk about it
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