SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The website for the city of Sioux Falls had 1.5 million users in the past 12 months, said Allie Hartzler, Communications and Culture Officer for the city.
“Two years before that it was 1.2 million,” Hartzler said.
The website, siouxfalls.org, has about 70,000 monthly users.
Several factors influence the increase in website users.
One is the city’s population is growing. Another is “we live in a more digital world” and people are using online options more often, Hartzler said. And a third is the city continues to add services and information that the public can access on the website.
“One of the biggest differences is there are so many more city services (that are available online),” Hartzler said.
“For example, you can apply for a building permit completely online,” Hartzler said.
And while the website isn’t broken it does need attention, Hartzler said. The last time the city re-designed its website was in 2016.
Hartzler said it’s common for websites to be resigned about every five years.
The city will be re-designing its website with a planned design launch for late 2023.
The city has a five-year agreement with Granicus for about $600,000 for the redesign and related fees as well as user research, content strategy and content creation, Hartzler said.
The five-year agreement with Granicus is for $425,593 and includes annual platform (software) fees along with implementation fees. Granicus was selected as a partner in June after the city requested proposals for a redesign partner.
In September, they added an additional $175,000 for user research, content strategy, and content creation, Hartzler said.
Granicus has experience in website design for local governments, Hartzler said.
Although use of the city’s website is increasing there is one frequent criticism.
“We absolutely hear that it’s difficult to navigate,” Hartzler said.
The searches can be tricky, Hartzler said.
One of the goals with redesign is to improve navigation so that users can more easily find what they are looking for, she said.
Key words that users are searching for, and other engagement will be evaluated to improve the search.
The redesign will be tested by individuals who will search for a provided topic on the website, Hartzler said.
That’s not the only role of the public in the redesign process.
The city has a planned open house from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15 in meeting room A of the Downtown Library. A public survey will be available online in early December.
The city has a website page dedicated to information about the website redesign.
City staff will also update the council during tomorrow’s information meeting.
Hartzler said city staff is very aware of how important the website is for the city and public.
Staff is looking forward to the redesign,” Hartzler said.
The website will look different, and the navigation will improve, but Hartzler said some things will not change.
The software using the building permit process will not change, for example, Hartzler said.