By Beth David, Editor
The Town of Fairhaven has a new website. The re-design uses “Virtual Town Hall” technology, which is used by many municipalities, including Acushnet. The big changes are a new, colorful look, more graphics, and an ability by town hall staff to make changes quickly. The site is also optimized for different devices.
“It’s smart,” said Anne O’Brien, Director of Human Resources and one of the people responsible for the redesign and for keeping the site updated. “It knows how big your window is. It knows if you are using a phone or a tablet.”
That means it is easier to read and find what you want on the site.
All the information and functions of the old site are still there, just shuffled around a little. If you are not able to find something, there is a handy and very efficient search function.
The calendar for town meetings is right on the front page, right next to a spot for notices to residents, such as snow cancellations, late trash pickup, etc. Residents can download the same forms as before, such as building permits, pay bills, and access the complete town code (bylaws). The ability to pay for building permits online is still not available, said Ms. O’Brien, but it is something the town is committed to getting done soon.
Four photos rotate on the banner, one of which caused a bit of a stir on Facebook because it shows the harbor from the Fairhaven side, not the New Bedford side, hence, it shows New Bedford, not Fairhaven. But, Ms. O’Brien said that will be fixed pretty quickly.
“If we waited for the perfect, we never would have had a deliverable,” she said.
Ms. O’Brien said she welcomes suggestions, and that she and the other town employees who are working on the site are being “very receptive” to what residents say.
“We’re trying to make it as user friendly as possible,” said Ms. O’Brien, adding that if someone makes a suggestion, they can just change it. “Sometimes it’s something I haven’t thought of.”
Town residents are encouraged to visit the website and explore its content. You may contact Ms. O’Brien from the website (under “Administration”) to make suggestions, or email her at email@example.com
Acushnet has also taken advantage of the user-friendly platform provided by Virtual Town Hall. Lisa Leonard, Administrative Assistant for the Selectboard, said that they have been using the current design for some months, but are better able to change the look of it or add banners, such as the alert banner used during the latest storms.
They also added the “Code Red” button to make it easy for residents to sign up for emergency alerts by phone or by text.
She said she likes that they can change the pictures more often, too.
“A lot of the towns are using it now,” she said. “It’s user friendly.” •••
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