Possible upgrade to near-decade-old website

In 2007 the City of Mounds View paid only $3,500 for the creation of its city website — the one it still uses today. After the Nov. 9 City Council meeting, however, city staff were left with direction to research options for a new site.

City administrator Jim Ericson said the website was created in partnership with the League of Minnesota Cities, a route which offered cities "a very cost-effective way to have a footprint on the web."

It may have been affordable, but Ericson said the low price does come at a cost.

"It's served us well for almost 10 years," Ericson said. "But there are some issues with it."

At the meeting he told the council that the site is "not necissarily as user-friendly as we'd like." He added that the site is difficult to upgrade and to customize.

"But those are the trade-offs of having a very cost-effective site," he said.

Ericson told council members that other cities have shelled out anywhere from $20,000 to Elk River's $80,000 for "commercial-grade websites."

He asked council members what they thought of the website.

"I'm sure you've all been on the website," Ericson said. "Are you OK with it? If you feel that it provides a suitable value and that it's sufficiently functional, then I guess we wouldn't do any more research as to ways to improve it."

Council says move forward

But the majority of the council, including the mayor, thought more research would be a good idea.

"I would love to see the website updated, upgraded, and more user-friendly," council member Sherry Gunn said.

Gunn said that on a number of occassions she's had people tell her that they couldn't find what they were looking for on the site.

Council member Carol Mueller agreed and added that the website is often the "first face" residents and businesses see — that it's what represents the city on the Internet.

Mayor Joe Flaherty felt similarly, saying the times don't match up with the site.

"I just have one comment," Flaherty said. "It's 2015...I think that websites are just that important to the success of businesses or cities or any entity."

According to Ericson — who up until now has done minimal research, pending the council's suggestion — the city will most likely be looking to pay in the $20-30,000 range for a new site.

He told council members that uprading the website would likely wait until 2017, which, by then, would make the site a decade old.

The time frame is based on the city's budget — the 2016 budget will be finalized next month, as of now without consideration of building a new website.

"I don't think there's enough time to get something ready to go and approved for inclusion in the 2016 budget," Ericson said. "But if we come up with some good information for you to consider we can always see how the timing works out on that."

—Jesse Poole


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