Carson City debuts new website today

Screenshot of the new website.

Screenshot of the new website.

Carson City has a new look.

The city government’s new website launches today, its first full redesign in more than four years.

“The goal was more transparency,” said Eric Von Schimmelmann, chief information officer.

It includes a new mobile version, a live chat window to help visitors navigate the website or government functions, and a new front-page heading called, of course, Transparency.

Under that, visitors will find the biggest content addition on the revamped site.

Late last year, the city added features called Open Budget and Open Expenditures so residents could see and read how money is spent here.

Now, Performance Metrics allows people to track how the city performs based on commonly-used data.

Right now, 24 types of statistics are available in six categories.

Under safety, for example, you can see average fire response times, or under sustainable infrastructure, the age of the city’s vehicle fleet.

Other categories include economic development, efficient government, and quality of life and community.

Behind each statistic is a page outlining the data and how and why it’s measured.

“The company was shocked we already had 24 items,” said Von Schimmelmann. “It will evolve. You have to crawl, walk, then run.”

The company is Socrata, the Seattle-based software developer behind Performance Metrics as well as Open Budget and Open Expenditures. Also under Transparency, visitors can reach an archive of all committee and commission public meetings that includes agenda, minutes and video.

Right now, the archive includes only a few meetings before 2016, but the goal is to go back as far as 2011. The city’s IT staff is adding new dates when requested and when time permits. “We’re consolidating the historical information in one spot,” said Von Schimmelmann.

Vision Internet, of El Segundo, Calif., is the developer behind the website’s content management system. The Board of Supervisors approved a contract for $39,725 with Vision Internet for the redesign at its Aug. 6, 2015 meeting.

Upgrading to its latest version allows Von Schimmelmann and other authorized users to edit a lot more on the website without calling in the developer.

The home page of the new mobile version features 16 icons for quick access to popular features and pages.

During the redesign, which took nine months, the team used so-called heat maps that show the most popular items on the website to organize how it’s navigated.

The front page has drop-down menus at top under labels for Residents, Business, Government, Transparency, News & Info, and How Do I. Underneath that is a rotating carousel of popular subcategories, including business licenses, agendas and minutes, and staff directory.

The color scheme uses colors — blue and yellow, mostly — found in the city and state flags, said Von Schimmelmann.

The front page text all sits on top of a series of rotating photos of Carson City, including the rodeo, bike paths, and Marlette Lake.

“It all started with that photo of the rodeo. We knew we wanted to use large images,” said Von Schimmelmann. “Eventually we may run a contest for more photos.”


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