Eastern Wake News

Zebulon working on website

A screen shot of the Town of Zebulon website, www.townofzebulon.org, Monday, July 11, 2016.
A screen shot of the Town of Zebulon website, www.townofzebulon.org, Monday, July 11, 2016.

It will likely be next year before residents here will see a finished product, but the process of overhauling the town’s website is underway.

Town leaders are looking for a vendor, and in the meantime they are asking for public input on how the webpage, townofzebulon.org, should look and function.

“We’ve done some research, talking to staff wanting to know what they are looking for,” said Lisa Markland, Zebulon’s town clerk. “They’ve given us examples of sites they like. We’ve talked to the vendors for those sites and with different municipalities, and are in the process of getting information from them about what services their vendors offer so we would know exactly what we would be getting.”

Markland is the head webmaster for the town’s site, while department heads are charged with keeping their respective sections updated.

She hopes to have quotes from potential vendors, assess the vendors and choose one within the next three months. She said it will probably be late spring before the new site is up and running.

The website was last updated in 2010 by Charlotte-based Web Full Circle. The town contracted with them after three years of working with RTP Designs fell through over a hosting conflict.

The town budgeted for a new website along with other capital improvement projects last year, but it delayed the expense to help cover a shortfall to a stormwater project on Yates Place. Town leaders said the $10,000 budgeted then wouldn’t cover the cost of a new website, anyway.

Zebulon commissioners tabbed $35,000 for a website overhaul as part of the $11.09 million budget they approved in June.

Town Manager Joe Moore said the new website should feature a better look and compatibility with the latest software. He also wants it to be easier to use and to serve as more than a bulletin board.

“The information (on the current website) is not readily available for people who want to find out information about the town – they’re having to hunt and dig too much,” Moore said. “I’m looking for the webpage to be more than just a portal to find information. I’m looking for it to be a portal to do business ... submitting forms for a building permit, to pay a water bill or to sign up for a recreation program.

“We love people coming to Town Hall and want them to understand our doors are always open to them, but we also understand getting to Town Hall may be an inconvenience.”

The town is seeking opinions for its website redesign through an online survey that will remain open through the end of July.

Markland said some people who have already taken the survey indicated they want quick links to a staff directory and the ability to pay for services online.

While the town works on the updated website, the current website will remain in place and available for users.

Zebulon website survey

The short survey on the town’s website overhaul can be found at nando.com/3x0 through the end of July.

Respondents are led through a series of questions, like how often and why they visit the existing page, and if they think it is useful, modern or outdated, easy to understand and pleasing to the eye.

It gauges interest in features that would allow users to pay fees online for town services. It asks what kind of devices people normally use to access the website, and if they would like to see more connectivity to the town departments’ social media pages.

The survey also asks people to share what aspects, like appearance and a user-friendly homepage, they feel are most important to the town’s website.