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City of Cincinnati begins rollout of complete website overhaul

The City of Cincinnati is rolling out a brand new website design that is complete with all the social media and interactive trimmings one could ask for…or is it? Take a look at the city’s redesigned website and learn about what they hope to accomplish with the new design. Then, share your thoughts on what could be better.

Less than two years after starting the rollout of its new logo, the City of Cincinnati is rolling out a brand new website geared towards interaction and engagement. City officials say that the intent is to make the website friendlier and easier to find information, while also increasing the site’s functionality.

“We know that people may be interested in engaging with the city, but may not be able to do it during regular business hours,” explained Assistant to the City Manager/Communications Meg Olberding. “We hope to get to a place where that can happen more and more through technology, with the website anchoring that.”

Olberding says that the city is also working to incorporate additional maps, interactive forms and self-service features that will allow users to find the answers to their questions. The goal dovetails with Cincinnati’s new online service request system – The new service system came in part due to recent budget cuts which impacted the number of staff at the city’s call center.

“While this is a difficult measure to take, the government is using this as an opportunity to move to other means of meeting customer service needs, namely through technology,” City Manager Milton Dohoney said in a prepared release.

Cincinnati tapped West End-based Topic Design to develop the new website design which incorporates much of the new design feel the new logo inspired in June 2009 when it was released.

The website redesign is still a work in progress as staff continues to build and update information. The new homepage launched on February 2 and, according to Olberding, the rest of the pages will be updated until fully compete by the end of the summer.

One of the striking new features of the city’s new approach to the web is its use of social media. Prominently displayed on the city’s main page is a Twitter stream of all the city departments using the social media tool. As a result, citizens can now find up-to-date information on snow removal, economic development, public safety and health.

“Sometimes it takes government a while to get there, but we are trying to use social media more to engage with citizens,” Olberding stated. “We hope to have mobile apps soon as well.”

Officials say that input on the new site design is greatly welcome and appreciated. To share your thoughts on how the city can improve the functionality or design of its website can do so by visiting the city’s comment section online.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.