By Anna Lothson
It's been a longtime coming for the Village of Oak Park to launch its new website, but Thursday morning the roughly $70,000 project made its debut.
A contract with Breakthrough Technologies was approved by the village board a year ago to tackle the site that hadn't been upgraded since 2001. Village spokesman David Powers said the site, which cost just over $67,000, served its purpose but couldn't meet the village's current or future demands.
A quick view of www.Oak-Park.us and any user can see dramatic change.
Fewer clicks are required to view the village's most popular links. On the homepage, users can find "online services," "village services," "your government", "our community," and "quick links." These lead to the most click-heavy pages about the farmer's market, block parties, jobs, parking, public records and more.
The homepage also updates itself regularly with fresh content. The majority of the site's visuals are dedicated to a running calendar of what's happening in town and other village news stories.
For those needing to pay a water bill, obtain a building permit, pay or contest a parking ticket, request documents, or just report a complaint, there's now an easier way to do so without navigating through various departments. The services can be accessed online from a computer, tablet or smart phone. The site also has links and a live feed from the village's Twitter accounts.
"It's going to allow staff to get involved and take responsibility in portions of the site," Powers said in a presentation about the project last year. "It's just going to make everything run a lot better."
While the old site was geared more toward departments as opposed to specific services, the new site is more user-friendly and focuses on services residents are seeking. The open-source website can be altered to make it as complex or simple as possible, designed with similar technologies to a smart phone. This web architecture also allows the site to be easily upgraded, unlike the previous village website, Powers said.