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Same name, new look for city Web site

Monday, April 16, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:21 p.m. CDT, Friday, June 20, 2008
The new city Web site will be easier to print. The old site only allowed users to print three-fourths of a page clearly.

After three years of its current look, the city of Columbia Web site is getting a face-lift.

Today marks the first day that Columbia residents can access a redesigned city Web site, gocolumbiamo.com.

The site still has the same address but now has a new color scheme, easier access to frequently used pages and improved search features, among other things.

“I think most people, when they go to the new Web site, will notice primarily the new look of it,” said Glenn Nielsen, secretary of the Internet Citizens Advisory Council, which helped with the redesign.

The new Web site has more than just visual changes, though.

The new Web site is printable. On the old site, only three-fourths of a Web page would print clearly.

“We added a link now where you can easily print pages,” said Sam Shelby, the city’s electronic government coordinator.

The menu structure has also been changed to a drop-down format to make the site easier to navigate, Shelby said.

The new Web site also promises to load more quickly. Web pages load 21 seconds faster on average than the older version, especially for users with slower connections, Shelby said.

The site was redesigned with feedback from both an internal committee with city staff and the Internet Citizens Advisory Group, appointed by the City Council. The process started in 2005, Shelby said. The city tested the old Web site for its usability and found a few major flaws.

“Compared to what was considered modern technology, it was time to go ahead and do a redesign,” Shelby said.

Once it was developed, the site went through a testing process, which Shelby said will continue after the launch.

“What I hope is that the Web site continues to provide accurate, clear and timely information that citizens can use,” said Toni Messina, public communications director. “If they are concerned about issues in Columbia, hopefully this will help them get the information more quickly and more easily.”

The city plans to add new applications to the Web site. Some possibilities include building permit applications and an online court fee payment page.

“It’s always a work in progress,” Messina said.

The goal of the redesign was to make information readily available for residents. The Web site will be a more valuable business tool, Messina said, as it continues to grow.

Users will be able to give feedback through a link on the site’s main page. The new site will then continue to be improved based on what residents suggest.

“It’s only going to be as useful as people want it to be,” Messina said.


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