The city’s online home has a new look.
The redesigned website, found at cranstonri.com, went live on Monday, Nov. 25.
John Psilopoulos, deputy director of administration, said the project began in September after the City Council approved funding through the current fiscal year’s budget. The decision to pursue the redesign, he said, stemmed from frequent requests and inquiries related to the prior design, which had been in place for more than a decade.
“The previous website was about 12 years old, and was a little antiquated and dated,” he said. “It was definitely needed.”
The templates utilized in the redesign were provided through Warwick-based Brave River Solutions, which the city has previously used as a vendor. Psilopoulos said the firm’s services were significantly less expensive than those of other vendors, and he called the company a “good partner” to the city.
Psilopoulos said the rest of the work, including the selection of images and development of content, was completed in-house. In all, he said, the cost of the project was $15,500.
“It was actually a smoother process than we anticipated,” he added, given the amount of information being transferred and the hundreds of pages involved.
The most visible of the redesigned site’s new features is a search tool on the homepage, which allows visitors to enter key terms such as “police,” “fire” or “city pool” and be quickly directed to relevant pages.
The site also includes a “new residents” tab directing recent arrivals to the city to various information and resources related to municipal services. Like the previous website, it features pages for individual departments, boards and commissions, as well as a calendar of meetings with links to agendas and minutes.
Psilopoulos said the new site is mobile-friendly – meaning it adapts its display for use on devices like cell phones and tablets – and includes security improvements.
“We tried to keep the site clean, very minimalist,” he said.
Psilopoulos said there have been only a handful of glitches since the launch of the redesign, and that the response thus far has been positive.
In an email Tuesday, Mayor Fung said: “I wanted a modernized website that allows our residents to get the information that they need and access it at any time of day. The site looks great and I am very happy how it turned out.”
In addition to the website redesign, the city is preparing to begin livestreaming meetings of the City Council and its committees. Just weeks ago, new cameras and related hardware needed for the live, online broadcast of proceedings in City Hall’s Council Chambers was installed.
Director of Administration Daniel Parrillo said the hope is to have the livestreaming up and running by the council’s next regular meeting on Dec. 16.
The cameras and other hardware were installed by a firmed called Ambient at a cost of approximately $50,000, according to Parrillo. Local company ClerkBase has been employed to provide software services for the livestreaming at a cost of approximately $6,000 annually.
Parrillo said at present, plans call for the streaming of full council meetings as well as meetings of the council’s committees, which regularly meet across two nights each month. He said officials will “work out the kinks” and gauge the public response before considering the expansion of the streaming to other entities, such as the Planning Commission.
“I think the important thing now is just to kind of get it going … It will be a discussion that we have between the council and the administration,” he said.