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A Guide for Updating Your Town Website

Maintenance is an important part of hosting a town website.

Regular updates to the site allow community members to find up-to-date information about events, ordinances, utilities and other municipal topics. If you want citizens and tourists to return to the website again and again, updates should be engaging, easy to find, and regularly scheduled.

When planning website maintenance, keep the following tips in mind to make your site as functional as possible.

Convert Documents to PDF

PDF stands for Portable Document File, and it is the preferred format for documents all throughout the web. In fact, federal government bureaus feature PDFs prominently. So why convert municipal documents and info pages from .doc or .docx? It’s all about ease of use. Although .doc files are fairly ubiquitous, not everyone’s computer system or mobile device has the ability to display them properly. PDFs, on the other hand, are easily displayed on the vast majority of computers, smart phones and tablets, so make sure to convert any documents before uploading them to the website.

Post Content that will Reduce Phone Calls

One of the main purposes of a town website is to save time. Clerks and office staff are already busy with daily duties, so it is in your best interest to share information on the website that helps community members find answers to their most common questions. An easily-navigable website is your best defence against a myriad of phone calls to the office on a daily basis. Post information on topics like dog license applications, fee schedules, building permits and trash collection. Issues such as these are the most frequent reasons to call a town office, so making the information easily available online will save time for you and local constituents.

Share Seasonal Content

Every season brings new events, new ordinances, and new information that is relevant to community members. As the curator of the town website, it is your job to make sure that web browsers can find all the updated content they need from month to month and season to season. It is also imperative that seasonal content not be hidden away on a new page, but incorporated directly into the landing page of the website. Making new content such as Spring Cleanup or fireworks restrictions noticeable on the homepage ensures that everyone visiting the website sees it. Not only will this increase attendance at local events, but it will encourage community members to visit the town website more often.

Update on a schedule

News about events and legislative changes will come in sporadically throughout the week. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to take this information and put it on the website as it comes in, due to other office duties and scheduling. For this reason, it’s important that you make a strict schedule for updating the website. One session per week should allow you to make any necessary changes, and update any links, events and local information that you need. Let any contributors know when site maintenance is being performed, and have them send any documents, notes or event details on a deadline each week.

Regular updates to your town’s website keep it relevant and interesting to readers. They also ensure the right kind of information for citizens so that they can stay well-informed about what is happening in their community. The bottom line is this: perform regular website maintenance, and your viewers will keep coming back for more.

Image: Christian Schnettelker

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