Focusing on its customers has seen Gisborne District Council come away with top prize for a local government website. At the Association of Local Government Information Management’s (ALGIM) Web Symposium dinner in Rotorua on Monday (7 May 2012) Gisborne District Council’s website was named winner of the ALGIM Supreme Website award.
The award is based on the results of ALGIM’s annual audit of Council websites. It takes into account how well a site meets New Zealand Government Web Standards, how quickly enquiries from the web are answered and how accessible the website is for someone who is visually impaired. The web standards look at the quality of the content, design and technical issues.
Council’s Karen Hadfield (Online Communications Advisor) and Mike Drummond (Group Manager Corporate Services) were at the dinner to pick up the award. Judges said the site had a great design and was really easy to use. In particular it was well written, using plain language.
Mrs Hadfield, who manages the website, was previously Council’s Customer Services Manager. “The philosophy behind the website was to be a virtual customer service centre. When we redesigned Council’s website in 2009 we had a limited budget compared to many other councils so the focus was on providing what we knew customers wanted. Busy people want to be able to access information and services when it suits them 24/7. The information needs to be easy to understand - straight to the point and no jargon. We use the same language on the website that we use when talking to a customer at the front counter.”
“Council websites have a lot more information than your average site. Gisborne is a unitary Council so there is even more to cover. Making that information easy to find is important. Tools to help people navigate around the site were considered and we used lots of key words so that all the information can be easily found through searching.”
“Large numbers of people use the site to search our cemetery records and headstone photos, keep an eye on road conditions, look for jobs, make submissions, find out about their rates, search for information on a property and enquire about freedom camping. While consulting on our draft Ten Year Plan last month 714 people looked at the rates comparison tool to see what rates they pay now compared to an estimate of what they would pay in July if the draft plan was adopted.”
“About 50 reports are uploaded each month to the Council meetings and agenda page. This means anyone can access the same information Councillors have and see what issues Council will be debating. The reports are online two working days before a meeting. This is a good resource as people can search online Council reports and minutes back to October 2009.”