The City of Sioux Falls has a brand new website with an increased focus on being user-friendly and accessible. Digital Communications Manager Justine Murtha chatted with Sioux Falls Simplified about what went into the new site and what features Sioux Fallsians should be excited about.
Answers are edited for length and clarity.
Let’s start with a little background – can you talk about why the time is now for a new city website?
We'd last updated our website in 2016. Technology changes pretty swiftly, so we usually say every five years is the expectation for an update of this scale.
- We've been working on this for over a year now, conducting research, building out the new site and migrating everything over – it's been a big, long project.
We’re all about simplicity here. Can you describe the new website or why it’s important in 10 words or fewer?
The website is for residents to get information they need.
What are some features residents can get excited about?
The previous website was very focused on organizing information by city department, which, as a resident, you needed to know, "this is public works or this is planning."
Our approach on this website now is more task-driven.
- Let's say I'm applying for a permit. I don't need to know what department manages that – I just go to the permit section.
- Another example is our housing and neighborhood section ... We've tried to bucket those things together so you can see neighborhoods and find all those things you'd be thinking about when you think about your home.
How will the new website help city employees better do their jobs?
The improved search features should help any employee if they're looking for any information.
With our newer platform, it's a lot easier to create content on our website. Now we can invite more employees to own and manage that content themselves to make sure it's accurate.
What did the new website cost?
(This information provided by spokesperson Vanessa Gomez.)
The City Council in 2022 authorized a contract for $329,022 with a company called Granicus to redesign the website, with an additional $70,000 annually for the software to maintain the website.
What happens next?
Our public website is now live at siouxfalls.gov.
As with a major project of this sort we may have little tiny things like a broken link here or there.
- If you get a page not found, there is an option to submit a report that comes to our team, and we can fix it. It’s super easy to flag it.
Anything else the people of Sioux Falls should know about this new website?
Our goal is for it to be accessible to all residents, and so one thing the new website will have is a drop-down translation option.
- We’ve pre-filled those with the top spoken languages in our community based on the school census record and 2020 census recommendations. The site is automatically translated into those languages using Google Translate.
The other thing that I think is kind of nice is we’ve integrated the events in the website. You no longer have to leave the site to see the events calendar – whether it's a citizen board meeting or something cool happening at parks.