Blayney Shire Council creates a foundation for better communication with ratepayers through a complete redevelopment of its website, saving on maintenance costs while reducing and simplifying maintenance processes.
Blayney Shire’s website is a central point of delivery for community services and information across the region. The council’s aim was to deliver high levels of service and efficiency by using technology to streamline processes. However, the site was tired looking, hard to use and lacked functionality. Glenn Newman, IT Systems Administrator, indicated the large number of complaints received from the public regarding the lack of a robust search function and difficulty in navigation.
The platform used for the website was costly because it did not allow council staff to maintain their own content in-house. Each change required staff to log a support call with the vendor and wait until the change could be made, and the Council was invoiced for each change.
“Just to add a simple menu could take 5 days as each change we wanted to make had to go to our external website provider. As a local government, we needed to be able to update our website quickly. It was absolutely critical,” said Mr Newman.
Nearby Gloucester Council had recently engaged Multibase’s end-to-end web development service mbase360 and recommended that Blayney Shire Council should contact them for their digital strategy, design and web building services.
The new website had to be created in a restricted timeframe so the framework would need to be developed quickly and then tough decisions needed to be made around content - what data from the old site should be kept, what needed to be improved, and what needed to be created anew?
Because the website would ideally be used by both technical and non-technical staff, the content management system selected needed to be flexible and easy to use. Furthermore, it needed to grow with them, scaling to support expanded content and new uses.
Mr Newman said the referral to mbase360 was “One of the best referrals we’ve had in a while”. Importantly, mbase360 gave the council assurance that scope creep would not ruin their budget by providing a fixed fee for the development, training and support.
After a needs assessment was undertaken, a new CMS solution based on the Elcom platform was deployed. Multibase trained Council staff onsite to maintain the website themselves, ensuring that various content owners could maintain their respective sections.
Now Blayney Shire Council makes all website changes in-house and can see results immediately. With more control over what is published, the Council can better adjust to meet the needs of the community and make refinements to provide great service. The look and feel of the site has been vastly improved and users find it easy to navigate, search and get things done.
Blayney Shire Council appreciates the way the site stands out and helps them communicate directly with area residents and visitors. “Lots of other governments are frustrated with their own websites, we’re so pleased that ours looks and works the way it does,” Mr Newman continued.
Massive cost savings and efficiencies have been gained through Blayney Council having full control of their content. The right content management system is now in place for future development, and a redeveloped Blayney tourism site is now being scoped on the platform. The external website has been such an improvement, the Council also plans to update its staff intranet and integrate it to be part of the larger website.
In addition better community satisfaction, Council staff are much happier with the solution and have the ability for people in departments outside of IT to update and manage the site as well as being able to act quickly on public demands for information.
Mr Newman admits it takes some time and effort, but thinks the end result speaks for itself. “The team at mbase360 were great – ultimately they had a very tight time frame and they delivered something we are all very proud of. We would not hesitate to recommend them to other Councils who are looking to improve their website,” Mr Newman concluded.
Blayney Shire is a local government area in the Central West region of New South Wales, Australia. It covers an area of 1525 km2 and has a population of 6,891. Its major town is Blayney and it also includes the townships of Carcoar, Millthorpe and the smaller villages of Mandurama, Lyndhurst, Neville, Barry and Newbridge.