Accessibility key component of new Puslinch website

Puslinch is working on having its new municipal website bring informaiton closer to its residents.

On Dec. 17 Karen Mayfield, president of eSolutions Group, spoke to councillors and provided a live demonstration of the township’s rebuilt site

Mayfield noted that eSolutions has worked with 210 Ontario municipalities.

“We’re very honoured to add the Township of Puslinch to the list,” she said.

The presentation was to demonstrate what she called the new easy and accessible website for the township.

“This has been a seven-month project and you have a very strong and dedicated team.”

Mayfield stated “every piece of content has been rewritten with accessibility in mind.”

She added the site is also designed to accommodate different ways people may interact with the site.

“It’s more than a new website. We’re building a foundation for the future and this is a start.”

She said the site will continue to evolve as the voice of the township to meet current and future needs.

Mayfield added the site will allow the township to provide services and communicate more effectively.

She estimated approximately 2,500 hours of work have gone into this project in association with the website committee and township staff.

“The team was extremely dedicated and worked hard to make this a huge success. Staff truly emulate the values of integrity, teamwork, service, responsibility and improvement.”

Mayfield said the site introduces a new brand and new functionality.

She said the use of a municipal crest tends to make a website look very old.

“But it is still important to the community so we incorporated (the logo) in another section of the page.”

The site now has rotating banner images of local places or events in addition to the use of graphics associated with different services or types of information.

“It’s really important we use images within the township.”

She initially stated professional images are required, but later stated that residents could be invited to submit photos for a photo gallery which could then be utilized in other township publications such as leisure guides.

She also went through various navigation functions including predictive searching.

In addition Mayfield said the site will be easy for staff to modify and/or customize.

“The website is a living document.”

She said the site also allows for public feedback.

Council comments

Councillor Matt Bulmer appreciated the accessibility content of the website.

“It’s always nice to have that first little link to the content.”

After asking whether the council calendar could include special meetings, Bulmer was assured it was a simple matter of adding another category to the calender.

Councillor Ken Roth said the new site was refreshing.

“I am not very computer literate and I found it easy to manoeuvre. If I can do it anyone can.”

Councillor Wayne Stokley asked about the automatic integration of recreation bookings and events.

“Is that happening later down the line?”

Puslinch finance director Mary Hasan, who has been working closely with eSolutions, said staff are currently working with the system and she hoped implementation would happen within a few months.

Councillor Susan Fielding was council’s representative as the website work was undertaken.

She noted there were two local citizens also quite involved in the process.

Mayor Dennis Lever said that eSolutions’ work with 210 municipalities was impressive.

He was particularly impressed with the visuals chosen for the site.

Lever considered the use of an emergency banner for the site an excellent idea.

He alluded to last year’s ice storm and challenges communicating information to residents.

Lever said he also liked the idea of the links to Twitter and he noted Wellington County had also implemented a Twitter feed for emergencies.

He thanked the team of people involved in the project.

“You did a fantastic job. When I first looked at this the first word out of my mouth was ‘Wow’.”

On Dec. 18 the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced the township would receive up to $16,250 to redevelop and enhance its website to encourage economic development.