Wellesley’s online presence has received a makeover, as the official township website, www. wellesley.ca, unveiled a redesign this week that brought the once-stale site into the 21st century.
Township councillors were introduced to the redesign at council chambers on Tuesday night, a day before the website went live.
“The purpose of the redesign is pretty simple: we wanted to give the ratepayers better access to the information they’re looking for,” said Daniel Baer, who works in information systems for the township and has spearheaded the redesign.
“The way we hope to do that is by adopting current technologies, and complying with current web development standards and regulations.”
The top priority was compliance with the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act), which specifies that government websites must be accessible for the vision impaired by January 2014. To that end, the website is now compatible with screen reader software.
In addition, the new site is adaptable for mobile devices (by mid-2014, 50 per cent of visits are expected to come from phones and tablets), and is printer-friendly. Among the new bells and whistles: mobile users can now automatically dial staff phone numbers;a system will be in place to monitor web traffic; a listing of news and events on the main page; and a code on printed pages to redirect smartphones to the site.
Annual costs are $15 per year for the domain name, plus a monthly $11 hosting fee. The website is unlikely to ever reach its bandwidth limit, Baer said. Baird, who will assume responsibility for moderating the site, hopes that each township department will maintain its own content.
Mayor Ross Kelterborn, who said the upgrade was “a long time coming,” noted that the website could benefit from more pictures of township places, events, and activities. Chief administrative officer Willis McLaughlin added that there are potentially thousands of photos in the township offices that could eventually be ported to the site.
“In my estimation, this is a fantastic start,” said McLaughlin. “We have pictures of anything and everything around the township. … It’s a work in progress, I would suggest, but I think it’s a heck of a start.”
“I mentioned that the website is finished; of course, a website is never complete,” replied Baird. “A well maintained website is constantly changing, constantly improving. We have a number of features in mind already that we hope to implement in the following year.”