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Town Redesigns Web Site


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At the Town Council meeting on Monday night, Jeff Hayes, Verona’s director of technology, unveiled the long-awaited redesign of the town government Web site.

The new site makes it much easier to find information on a wide range of topics, from Recreation Department programs to variance applications and building permits. Hayes told the council that the new site had been designed to put all information within two clicks of the home page. There is a banner for emergency information on the center of the screen and a clear schedule of when Town Council meetings and other programs will be broadcast on VTV. (You cannot watch  the meetings online, as you can with Board of Education meetings now.)

The new Web site has also been designed to work on cell phones, and Hayes said that the new site will be accessible in emergencies. Last year, during the Halloween snowstorm, the town was unable to provide updates to residents through its Web site.

The site was designed by Muse Marketing Group, which is based in the center of Verona. Township Manager Joe Martin said the town had become aware of Muse’s work at a League of Municipalities meeting. Martin said that Muse was paid $15,000 for its work, which took several months. According to Muse’s Web site, it has done work for the Newark Fire Officer’s Union Local 1860 and the Ironbound Ambulance Squad. Angela Anemoyanis, the founder of Muse, says it has also done work for other government groups but is not able to release those names.

Anemoyanis told the Town Council that Muse had analyzed the old site to discern the most accessed information and then put that information in the most prominent position. That moved the Rec Department from a small corner in the lower left to the center of the home page, along with information about renting the Community Center.

The new site is built in Drupal, which is a so-called open-source software. Open-source software is created by groups of individuals rather than by employees of a single company, like Microsoft or Google. Drupal is used by about 2% of the world’s top Internet sites. (MyVeronaNJ.com uses a different open-source system called WordPress, which powers about 15% of the top sites.)

While the new site makes it easier to find addresses and phone numbers of key departments, the site still lacks a directory of town employees by name, and a site search feature, which could help users who don’t know which department to contact for the information they need. Councilman Kevin Ryan asked during the meeting if it would be possible to pay water bills through the Web site, but was told that the town is concerned about credit card processing costs. It is possible to pay parking tickets online, but that is because the actual transaction takes place on the New Jersey Courts’ Web site. Montclair lets residents pay tax and utility bills through its town government Web site.

Information on Verona’s budgets, which has been requested by many residents over the last two years, appears to be accessible under the Government tab of the new site, but the links to the documents were all broken as of this writing. And while the Town Council meeting agendas are online, the resolutions presented at the meetings and the voting record on those resolutions is still not. The day-to-day management of the site, which includes repairing roken links is now the work of Verona town employee Steven Neale.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


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