The City of Thunder Bay needed to keep up with a changing online communications environment. After 10 years and more than 8,300 active and static web pages on its old site, the City knew change was needed to keep up with everyday site traffic volumes and requests that came from thousands of daily visitors.
The City sought to overhaul its 10-year-old website to provide as much relevant information as possible up front. A focused, purpose-driven sitemap with pages featuring crucial content was developed, and all content pulled from the old site, edited for plain language and visually updated with clean and helpful photographs. This process involved cleaning up more than 8,300 pages of content.
The new thunderbay.ca is also fully responsive for mobile platforms, such as phones and tablets. Approximately half the site's visitors now use a mobile platform to browse for information.
The City used extensive public consultation to determine the content that would resonate and fit the needs of all stakeholders. Through 428 total responses and 29 focus group participants, the City had a solid base of necessary data to help shape the site's development process.
The City was also able to create a two-way communications connection with site users by including integrated social media feeds and the Pingstreet app for mobile users.
Additionally, through features such as an interactive calendar, accessible and responsive forms, an easy-to-navigate and update i:Create content management system (CMS), bidsandtenders™, a contact and department directory and a news and alerts manager, users have the tools they need to discover more about the City.
Centrally located on the home page are common links users can click to access, such as election information, news postings, jobs, transit information, upcoming events, trails and recreation and what to do when visiting Thunder Bay.
City staff are already seeing substantial quantitative user results. When comparing the months of August 2017 to August 2018 (with a go-live date of June 2018):
• Visits to the website during the month were up by over 107,000 visits (283,516 to 390,986) - a 38% increase
• Average daily visits increased by 3,466 (9,146 to 12,612) - a 38% increase
• Mobile use of the site increased by 6%
With a completely refreshed online presence that drives community engagement, takes a proactive approach to providing crucial municipal information and services, and with a process that involved extensive community consultation, the new thunderbay.ca is a resource for all stakeholders. This "critical infrastructure" is useful now and will guide the City for years to come.
"Thunderbay.ca is critical infrastructure for the city … If you picture people walking into City Hall looking for information, services, application forms, reporting a problem or looking for a map … it is critical infrastructure."
- Karen Lewis, Director of Corporate Strategic Services, City of Thunder Bay