Unveiling the city of Hays’ new redesigned website drew expressions of “wow” from Hays City Commissioners on Thursday.
Chad Ruder, director of Information Technology for the city, gave a tour of the city’s redesigned site during the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall.
Haysusa.com has well over 200 pages. But Ruder said residents should find the new layout easier, so they can find what they want, and get things done.
“I invite you to visit Haysusa.com, it went live on Monday,” Ruder told the commissioners.
Residents will find forms, calendars, up-to-date city news, and be able to pay their bills online, Ruder said.
“It needed to be informational and current, you don’t want old stagnant information, and you want a layout that is intuitive. You want people to be able to navigate their way through,” he said.
The site is also ADA compliant for visitors with special needs.
“There are tools you install,” Ruder explained. “They install software on their computer and it helps view the site for them … We wanted to be compliant, and the package we have is.”
The site’s landing page starts out with five separate mega-menu categories: Government, Departments, Services, Visit and “How Do I …”
“The ‘How do I…,’ in my opinion, is most important,” Ruder said. “It drops down and gives you options.”
And right in the middle of the home page is a “Search” option.
Scrolling down, visitors can choose from seven informational buttons, ranging from Employment and Water Conservation to Make a Payment or Submit a Request.
“The bottom buttons came about based on design trends and the analytics from our previous websites,” Ruder said. “Where do people go, what are they looking for, whether it’s easy to get there or not, and where do they end up?”
Scrolling further down the home page, visitors will find city news, broken up into two sections.
“We have a news flash, where push information ends up,” he said. “And we have a carousel of very important items. Right now you can see water conservation and our North Vine Corridor project, the city Commission and the Waste Water Treatment remodel.”
Currently the city uses a system called “Nixle” to send out email and text notifications, but Ruder said recipients should watch for an alert about the new “Notify Me” system.
“We’re going to stay with Nixle for just a little bit while we get our feet wet on notifications, and then we’ll transition away from it,” he said.
With Nixle, residents have said they aren’t getting the kind of information they want, said Commissioner Sandy Jacobs. She asked Ruder to get the word out there’s a new system.
“I think there are a lot of people out there who would like to use it, but didn’t know what it was, and didn’t know what the word Nixle means, where Notify Me makes it pretty clear,” Jacobs said.
“It’s an important portion of the website,” Ruder agreed, explaining that residents can go to “How Do I…” and sign up for notifications unique to their interest, whether public safety, road work, emergency alerts, calendar items, agendas or many others.