Evanston debuts redesigned city website

Amelia Langas, Reporter

Motivated to create a more mobile-friendly site in a smartphone-oriented era, Evanston revamped its old design and launched a new website Tuesday, city officials said.

Gone are the days of a blue color scheme and outdated graphics. Now, a photograph of a wintery Clark Square Park in south Evanston at sunset adorns the homepage. Other features include a new responsive design, a search-oriented homepage and greater security, said Luke Stowe, the city’s chief information officer.

“People are on the go now, so we want to offer a site that’s adaptable to that,” Stowe said.

Stowe said Vision Internet — a California-based website design firm that specializes in government website development — spearheaded the city’s website redesign. Vision Internet has also designed sites for institutions and cities in states such as Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Ashley Fruechting, senior director of marketing for Vision Internet, said Evanston’s old site needed an update because it was hard to navigate and struggled to handle increasing mobile traffic. When city officials discovered these issues, they reached out to design firms and eventually settled on Vision Internet, Fruechting said.

The company’s proposal focused on interactive tools that aimed to “rationalize government information” for the average reader, she said.

These new tools include notifications of job postings and community events as well as a dynamic calendar, which will increase the functionality and accessibility of the website, Fruechting said.

Fruechting said her firm conducted an analysis of how Evanston citizens use the website, tracking “what devices were used to access the site, the most frequently accessed pages and most frequent searches.”

Visitors to the new site can find content through a search bar on the homepage and through a traditional drop-down menu format, which makes finding information quicker, Stowe said. It also ensures a better user experience for citizens, benefiting both residents and city staff, he added.

The new site is hosted on a virtual server rather than a physical one, which increases affordability and provides for greater disaster-preparedness, Stowe said.

Prior to the update, which began last June, Evanston’s website had not been modified since 2010, said city manager Wally Bobkiewicz. The site aims to increase access to city information while being as user friendly as possible, Bobkiewicz said.

“Technology has changed and how people use websites has changed in the past seven years,” he said.

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