Elkhart city website redesigned, offers better navigation

Changes allow visitors quick access to information.

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 3:33 p.m.

ELKHART — The city’s redesigned website is up and running and offers easier access to an array of information, officials say.

The website surfaced online last week and is running smoothly after a few initial kinks were worked out, said Matt Heineman, the city’s GIS and records manager.

Overall, users will notice that it is much better organized compared with the former website, said Sarah Mitchell, the regulatory affairs director for the city.

The work was done by eGov Strategies, which specializes in website design for government entities, Mitchell said.

In addition to making it more user friendly for the general public, the changes behind the scenes make it much easier for the city to update, Heineman said.

The home page is more adjustable and will allow the city to make quick changes if officials need to communicate something important, Heineman said.

And the redesign offered a rarity: The city now will save money on annual maintenance expenses because new technology and servers allow the company “to do more with less,” he said.

As a result, the annual cost will fall from about $10,000 a year to around $6,600, Heineman said.

City officials learned of the savings when contacted by eGov Strategies, which urged the redesign and serves as a content management system for the website.

“I’ve never received a phone call like that before,” Heineman said.

Cost of the redesign was around $5,600, Mitchell said.

The website also now is acclimated for tablets and smartphones.

To access the site on a smart phone, go to elkhartindiana.org/mobile and then click on the tab in the top left corner for a list of areas to peruse.

The website includes separate categories at the top of the home page for government, city departments, business, community and recreation.

Another category, called “How Do I,” provides details on 14 different tasks ranging from how to obtain a building permit to how to report a code violation.

Also on the home page is a city calendar, an area for news releases, community events and a list of quick links to city offices that work closely with the public.

Another feature is the Mayor’s Hotline, which allows people with a concern, such as a drainage problem, to convey it to the mayor’s office. A copy then goes to the appropriate department.

The online hotline should provide quicker response, Heineman said.

The city continues to load new documents onto the area of the website referred to as the document center.

One item, which is printable, is a guide to basic property maintenance tips, including tips on trash, recycling and just about anything pertaining to a property’s exterior. The document is available in English and Spanish.

Another item recently posted is a request form for access to public records.

As of Tuesday, June 24, the website had about 834 documents.

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