Supporting government transparency in Colorado
City of Boulder launches new website with Open Data
The City of Boulder has launched a new website at bouldercolorado.gov. The site includes a new layout and design as well as several features aimed at making it easier for users to access government services and information. The last time the city launched a new site design was in 2006. View the City of Boulder Website Infographic to see a visual progression of the city’s website since 1999.
Key to the new site is its responsive design, which means the site is resizable for any screen, including any mobile device.
“It’s a new era in website design,” said City of Boulder Director of Information Technology Don Ingle. “We knew going into this effort that not only did our website need to have an updated look, it also needed to accommodate mobile web users. More and more people are accessing Internet content from mobile devices, leaving designs based on desktop screen widths a thing of the past.”
The city’s site also features more photos and videos throughout its pages. Navigational options featured on the new home page were selected based on hit and search data as well as topic timeliness.
New website services include:
- A new Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) tool called Inquire Boulder (www.inquireboulder.com) that serves as a customer service portal.
Users can go to Inquire Boulder to ask the city questions, look up FAQs and submit requests for services like pothole repair, graffiti response, park shelter rentals, park and trail maintenance, code enforcement, damaged city trees and much more. An Inquire Boulder app is also available for iPhone and Android mobile devices.
- Online access to public records for City Council and boards and commissions.
The city is launching a public portal to documents that are on file for council, boards and commissions from the last three years, where available. This can be accessed at bouldercolorado.gov/central-records, from the scrolling buttons on the city’s homepage, or from individual council, boards and commissions pages. By providing online access to these materials, users can search key words to find meeting documents, rather than having to know the date the meeting occurred. Additional documents will be added to the public portal in a phased approach.
The city previously provided open data files like GIS data and other land use resources, but they were scattered throughout the website, buried in multiple locations. By combining and featuring the city’s open data sets, Boulder joins the ranks of many other municipal governments providing open data services.
“Perhaps the most unique feature of the new website is something our users can’t see, and that’s our partnership with the City of Arvada,” said Ingle.
As part of the redesign effort, the city chose to switch to a new content management system, the database-driven application that houses webpage content and provides a user interface for the staff that posts the content to the site. Rather than purchasing a new system from an outside vendor, Boulder entered into a unique partnership with the City of Arvada to share and mutually enhance the customized content management system that Arvada had developed. As a result, the city acquired the system at no cost. As part of the partnership, both cities have agreed to share enhancements to the system as they develop new features that meet their needs.
“Partnering with Arvada was definitely an ‘outside of the box’ decision, but it made a lot of sense for several reasons,” said Ingle. “We were able to get a system that was developed specifically with local government needs in mind, from the perspective of the staff that use it to communicate with the public, rather than from a vendor. It also allows us to make specific enhancements to it in the future. The partnership will save both municipalities and taxpayers money while mutually supporting our online communication goals.”
The cities were jointly awarded second place in the 2012 Best of the Web (BOW) City Portal Category from the e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government for this collaborative approach to share and jointly pursue innovation for a specialized website content management system.
The city spent approximately $25,000 on the new site design by Vision Internet, a company that specializes in designing websites for local government entities. The Inquire Boulder CRM system provided by Government Outreach, which specializes in CRM systems for local governments, amounted to $19,000 for implementation and annual costs thereafter for system hosting and support.
During the redesign effort, the city also endeavored to clean up its content from the old site. As a result, the city eliminated approximately 8,000 pages of outdated and inaccurate or duplicate information and now hosts a trimmed up site of approximately 4,000 pages.