West Orange Website Will Get New Look
New website will improve functionality, allow online payments
The township website will undergo a complete redesign in the next couple of months, in a move that officials say will improve communication between the township and its residents.
In a unanimous vote, the council approved the resolution Tuesday night to award a $35,000 contract to CivicPlus, a Kansas-based web design company that will create a more functional, user friendly website that allows online payments.
Mayor Robert Parisi advocated for the change and said the new design will help put "more information out to the public in an easier fashion." "It will enable residents that don't want to come to town hall to get forms, it enables residents to pay various bills online," he said.
Officials say the current website is not meeting the township's needs and operates under a proprietary system — barring the township from taking and using the website without the vendor — and limits content changes to the hosting company.
"Our (current) website is less than optimal," said Councilman Joe Krakoviak. "Right now when we want to put something on the website, it has to go to one township employee who then contacts the vendor and the vendor has to be involved in making any changes.
CivicPlus does not operate under a proprietary system and will allot township employees different levels of access to create and change content.
Officials did not specify when the new website would be up and running but said the redesign would take at least a couple months.
Michael Matheis, Director of Information Technology in West Orange said the $35,000 contract includes redesign, hosting and maintenance costs for the first year. Maintenance and hosting fees would accrue to $4,833 each year thereafter.
A committee made up of township employees and residents, knowledgeable in website design, requested proposals for a competitive bid. They said that of the three proposals received, one was over budget and the other vendor did not demonstrate adequate experience.
John Mitrano, a resident on the website committee who has worked redesigning websites for 16 years at TechDesigno, said CivicPlus was well-suited for the job.
"They have a very evolved and mature platform for municipalities," said Mitrano. He said CivicPlus works with 877 government specific sites designing "very easy to use," "sophisticated" and "high functional" sites.
Mitrano said the initiative was a much-needed upgrade for website. "People are demanding more and more these days, they wish to pay online with a credit card. People want conveniency today because they know its possible."
During the meeting, Mayor Parisi also announced that Catania Consulting Group, one of four companies contracted to help market West Orange, had withdrawn their contract. "They don't want to work with the township," said Parisi. "We're looking to fill that piece." He said the administration would come back to the council for approval.
Jessica Glicker, public information officer for the township and project manager for the marketing initiative said, "Although the township is no longer working with Catania Consulting, we are moving ahead with our marketing initiative as planned."
[Editor's note: To read more about Tuesday's township council meeting click here.]