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City launches new, service-driven website

websitenewThe City of Topeka on Thursday launched its new website – at the same URL, www.topeka.org – with the goal of making its information and services more user-friendly and accessible. The major changes to the site include making topeka.org more mobile-friendly (roughly 40 percent of the site’s traffic comes from mobile devices), and organizing the site by service, rather than by the departments that provide those services. For example, businesses quickly can find the current bid opportunities or how to apply for a zoning variance, without knowing those services are housed in different departments (purchasing and planning).

“People come to the site to get something done as soon as possible, so we’re trying to accommodate that,” said deputy information technology director Sherry Schoonover. “With the new site, it will be easier to find and access key items and news and to search our content. You don’t have to know what department does what anymore.”

websiteoldThe new site also allows departments to update their own pages – with final approval coming from IT and communications. This will create a more up-to-date and fluid website. On the old website, only a few people had the ability to update and make changes.

The homepage prominently features new initiatives and information, and provides easier access to the site’s most popular destinations, including bill pay, governing body agendas and infrastructure projects.

To ensure the website would meet consumers’ needs, the City previewed the website to about 60 people. This outreach included six usability labs with about 40 people, from Topeka residents to employees inside and outside of City government, as well as to Governing Body members and City leaders.

The website uses Microsoft SharePoint, which already houses the City’s Intranet services. The website was created by the City’s own IT team, significantly reducing the costs involved. The City ultimately paid $20,000 for installation of and consultation for the new site. The web development team in IT has been working on this needed update since fall 2015.

“This update to the website is just another step toward making City government more open and accessible,” said City Manager Jim Colson. “We hope the new look helps people find the services and information they need, and even stumble across some information they weren’t aware of before.”

If you notice an issue or problem with the site, please fill out the Website Feedback form available at the bottom of the homepage.

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