The city of Thorp, WI was looking to upgrade their municipal website from a user experience and detailed information standpoint. Additionally, there was a real need for the site to be easily updated by city hall employees as their existing site was so confusing that new content had not been uploaded in over a year. Obviously, this was a major problem especially since the pandemic was starting to take hold in the country and the city's site could not be amended to relay important information to the public.
Our research and development began with considering what was working in the industry across the country and what could be improved upon. We studied smaller communities, but ultimately incorporated advanced features that some of the largest cities in the US utilized. Upon presentation to the city council, tourism commission, chamber of commerce, and city hall employees, we discovered there were some primary needs:
There is an inherent problem when providing access to clients to site editing tools and it lies with the easy-to-understand fact that most people are not familiar with the tools that designers use to edit websites. We solved this by using a powerful site building platform that we have fallen in love with called Webflow. The interface for city hall employees was night and day easier for the responsible parties and soon became a tool that everyone seemed to love using.
Municipal websites must be approved over multiple rounds of deliberation, so our starting point was learning about the needs of all of the decision makers in the process. There was a stress put on the ease of use and simple navigation for the residents which was a departure from many municipal websites that we researched. We noticed that the sites across the country that stood out to us offered large images, simple top-level navigation, and multiple opportunities for visitors to find key resources. This led us to develop a unique resources section for each top-level page which offered quick links to important services that residents would be interested in using.
Small town life leans towards more personal relationships which is why it was important to offer multiple contact methods for various departments and officials. So, with infused contact information into every page on the site, we ensured that the site's visitors would have no trouble getting in touch with representatives or local businesses.
Since the tourism commission was the main financial contributor to the site's funding, there was a real need to incorporate targeted keywords that local tourists and potential new residents would use on search engines. The result was a substantial increase in search impressions on Google for the city's website.
The final website turned out to brilliantly incorporate all of the project's initial needs with a smart UX/UI interface. The resident engagement level was felt immediately and became the local resource that many were hoping for during the project's conception.