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City website waiting to load


Of the Keizertimes

When members of the Keizer City Council approved a contract for a new city website to be built in early May, the impression given was the site would be up and running by the end of the year, if not earlier.

That’s not going to happen, as EVO Government Websites is still working on building the site.

The project was one of the items City Manager Chris Eppley gave an update on during a council work session Dec. 8.

“It is being built,” Eppley said. “We’re meeting it seems like all the time on it. We’ve provided a lot of initial information. Their next step is to provide a drawing of what it will look like. The intent is to make it a lot more customer friendly, to be able to find and also to be able to do business with us.”

Councilor Kim Freeman then asked the key question.

“To be completed when?” Freeman asked.

“Gosh, I hope soon,” Eppley said.

In an e-mail to councilors Dec. 12, Eppley gave some more insights into the project delay.

“The contractor we have hired to construct this site has had some internal turnover, which has slowed this project down a bit on their side,” Eppley wrote. “We just received notice this week that the project manager working on our project has now been replaced because the company leadership did not feel they were meeting the city’s goals for development of a clean, simple and modern site that is user friendly. They are ready to get going full speed ahead again immediately.”

When he recommended the new website in the spring with an initial cost of $15,800, Eppley referred to the current site as being “woefully inadequate and outdated” as well as “difficult to maintain.”

At the time of the approval back in May, the contract didn’t include a date by which the website should be live. The closest it came to a date was this wording: “In no event shall the go-live date of the website as described herein be later than 16 weeks from the effective date herein.”

Tim Wood, Keizer’s assistant controller who has been working on the project, confirmed that meant no certain date.

“To my knowledge there wasn’t a definite date the website would be live by, our intent was to move the project along,” Wood said. “However we want to make sure the end product is something everyone can be proud of. We discussed timing with the contractor towards the end of the initial 16 week period and there wasn’t any concern about going beyond that date.”

Wood also expanded upon EVO’s internal shake-up.

“We did experience a slowdown in November when the third party web site development firm changed managers on the project,” he said. “The change in project managers was due to a change in creative direction by the firm to ensure the city gets a user-friendly website that is clean, simple and modern.”

Wood said city department heads are reviewing a live prototype version of the website this week, which reflects feedback given to date in addition to the impact from EVO’s new creative direction.

“Once the prototype version is approved by the city, staff will be trained in how to update and maintain the site while at the same time it will be populated with content,” Wood said. “The site will likely be ready to go in about two months.”

The project was originally going to be done in the 2013-14 fiscal year, but was delayed until this fiscal year due to other budget priorities.

Wood noted plenty has changed since the city’s current website first went live more than a decade ago.

“The original website was developed in 2003-04,” he said. “The primary reasons for the new website are the ability to easily update content in a way that is easy for the users to find and use, and that is formatted so it can be accessed from computers, tablets and other handheld devices.”