The City of Danville has launched a redesign of its website – danvilleva.gov – that vividly showcases images of the city and provides access to many types of data in a way never before available.
City Manager Joe King said the city is excited about the website’s new look and feel and the addition of a suite of applications developed by Socrata that allows the city to now publish performance, spending and – soon to become available – budget data quickly and in consumer-friendly formats.
“Socrata’s open data portal provides digital access to a wealth of information for residents of Danville and anyone considering moving to our city,” City Manager Joe King said Tuesday. “It is our continued goal to be transparent, and this portal takes us to a higher level.”
Called Open Data Danville, the portal can be accessed using the “Transparency” button located at the bottom right corner of the city’s website or directly at data.danvilleva.gov. Before now, if residents or news media wanted much of this information, they had to request it.
Rather than wading through hundreds of pages of scanned documents of legal and financial information, citizens will see the data in colorful charts, graphs and images that are attractive, navigable and easy to understand.
With the portal, citizens can search the data, download the data, embed the data on their own site and build apps with it.
Based in Seattle, Socrata has more than 200 public sector clients around the world. Its performance and financial transparency apps for governments, agencies and commissions operate under the names “Open Performance,” “Open Expenditures” and “Open Budget.”
The initial set of performance data for Danville covers goals established for the police department. “We will be putting out more information for a range of city services and functions, so people can have greater insight into how the city government is serving them," King said.
The spending data is in place. King said the city expects to add the budget data after City Council formally presents a budget for public consideration. The presentation will take place next month.
In addition to greater transparency, the goal of the redesign was to provide an updated look, easier navigation and a responsive design to ensure that the website fits on screens of all sizes (mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop devices).
Amanda Paez, the city’s webmaster, said the changes reflect the new era in website design.
“If you were accustomed to the navigation on the old site, you’ll see a significant change,” Paez said. “We also knew going into this effort that not only did our website need to have an updated look, it also needed to accommodate mobile web users and tablets.”
The dynamic homepage showcases images of the city, while prominent buttons direct visitors to popular online services such as employment opportunities, bid postings and notifications of bid postings, news alerts and scheduled meetings of city boards and commissions.
Danville is a place for people to Live, Work, Play and Experience, which is how the site is now structured. The main navigation uses mega-menus to display multi-level navigation at a glance without cluttering the homepage design, while direct links and a powerful search bar provide options to easily find important and up-to-date city information.
News and announcements remain a key component of the website, offering an easy place to highlight the latest city news.
City spotlight is a new feature that will share stories of what Danville has to offer.
As with any new website, there may be a few glitches that need adjustment over the next few weeks.
The last time the city launched a new site design was in 2011. Planning for the new site began more than a year ago, gradually taking shape with staff input and the expertise and guidance of its website provider CivicPlus. The city spent $14,000 on the new site design, but the cost includes continued support and maintenance by CivcPlus, plus update options.
The contract with Socrata amounted to $38,250 for implementation, project management, software and 18 months of support. The city collected competitive bids before awarding Socrata the contract.
“We issue an open invitation to all to visit and see the changes in place,” Paez said. “We’re really pleased with the result, and hope our users will be as well.”
Users can email their feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.