Champaign to receive more user-friendly city website

By Eric Heisig

A draft of the new city of Champaign Web site was presented to the Champaign City Council during its study session Tuesday night.

The new site, which will still not be launched for some time, will have a new layout designed to reduce the cluttered look of the current one. Webmaster Paul Kaiser said the city has outgrown the model, launched in 2004, and the new one will allow for more content to be posted.

“The amount of content has grown,” said Fred Halenar, Champaign’s information technologies director. “That will lead us to this next version.”

Kaiser said studies have shown people utilizing the Web site do not go to merely browse, but rather have a specific purpose in mind when visiting. He said this new version will allow easier access to information.

“We want them to feel like they are going to the right location,” Kaiser said.

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    During the study session, the Council members were also able to voice their concerns about problems with the current Web site. Dist. 5 Council member Ken Pirok said one of the biggest problems with it now is the search engine, which makes it difficult to find the information a person is looking for.

    Kaiser, however, said they plan to address the problem by using a version of Google tailored for government sites, which is better able to sort information such as names and key terms.

    The new Web site design will be made public some time in the near future, so the city can get feedback from visitors.

    The prototype is slated to be the third version of the city’s Web site, with the first version launching in 1999.

    The Champaign City Council meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the City Building.