East Hampton Town unveiled a shiny new website last week that does much to bring the town into the modern era of user-friendly web design.
Town board members received a peek at the functionality of the new website from town grant coordinator Nicole Ficeto at their Sept. 20 work session.
“The new design is more user friendly, allows for better communication, and is definitely more interactive,” said Ms. Ficeto, as she gave the board an overview of the forms, mailing lists, emergency alerts and social media sharing buttons provided on the new website, whose home page is a series of alternating bright images of the Montauk Lighthouse, the Babinski Farm, an aerial view of Montauk’s ponds and other stunning images of the town.
The board’s old website had been a drab brown, text-heavy portal where most new town features had been piled on to the home page with little thought to design or flow.
The new website is designed by CivicPlus, a Kansas-based firm that has already designed successful upgrades to Southold and Southampton’s town websites.
Ms. Ficeto said the new website has multiple navigation systems, access to the emails of every town employee, a sitemap and calendars for town boards and committees and for community events.
It is designed to provide emergency alerts on storm preparations and information on which shelters will be open in an emergency and what services they provide.
Ms. Ficeto said the town now has the capability to provide bid specifications, online traffic ticket payments, crash reports, tax payments between Dec. 15 and May 31, aircraft noise complaints, and information about the facilities at town beaches.
“You can find [Councilman] Peter Van Scoyoc’s secret fishing spot and [Councilman] Fred Overton’s secret clamming spot,” joked Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.
It is also a responsive design, which adjusts accordingly to the different sized screens of smartphones and tablets.
“It’s a huge effort to pull all this information together. Thank you,” said Mr. Cantwell. But he also cautioned that the website is “a two-way street.”
“Residents can go to the site and obtain information, but getting the full benefit of this is going to be dependent on departments feeding information into the system,” he said. “That’s something we’re going to have to work on on a regular basis. At department head meetings, we need to put this on the agenda and remind and encourage departments to feed information to the site. That’s a key component of this. The information has to get to this site. If it doesn’t, it’s not going to be successful.”
Town Information Technology Administrator Bob Pease said departments have had extensive training on how to use the new website, and he expects that training to continue.
Mr. Pease said that if residents are still seeing the old website when they visit the town’s url, they should clear their cache and then try to reload the page.
Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said the town’s previous website, last updated six years ago, was launched before it was ready.
“The homepage became a catch-all, and it was really challenging to find things,” she said.
“This is one heck of a great change,” said Mr. Pease.