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City of Lincoln’s website gets a new design and new features

By: Patty McAlpin, Reporter
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A new city website will make its debut sometime in February.

But first, 50 to 100 residents will take the site for a test drive to help work out any kinks.

Lincoln Mayor Stan Nader has already taken the site for a spin.

“I’m excited,” Nader said. “The navigation is much easier on the new site in comparison to the old one.”

Volunteer and Lincoln resident Larry Whitaker is working with city staff to make the new site interactive, improve navigation and enhance the aesthetic appeal.   

“We are working with Larry at the staff level to clean up issues for the new web site,” Lincoln City Manager Jim Estep said.

The new site will offer online payment so residents will be able to pay for utilities and other city services such as library fines.

Site visitors will also be able to file a business license and tell the city crews when a street light is out. The calendar will be more user-friendly and include a link to the agenda packet for Lincoln City Council meetings listed on the calendar. In addition, residents will be able to register for recreation classes.

An online payment system will cost the city an estimated $1,000 per year.

Whitaker began working on upgrading the city’s website in July. So far, Whitaker said he has donated about 700 hours on the project.

Lincoln’s current web system is 10-years-old and involves six different web sites, 300 to 500 web pages and more than 1,000 downloads, according to Whitaker. Online payment is not available.

 “In today’s world, presentation is the key,” Whitaker said. “You have less than a minute to capture the viewer’s attention.”

Priorities are maintainability, content, navigation and aesthetics.

The first of two phases includes establishing the city image, transferring and reorganizing information and consolidating the city websites under one webmaster.

Councilman Paul Joiner designed a new city seal that will be prominently featured at the top portion of the site’s home page next to an image of City Hall. A graphic designer, Joiner is also giving advice pro bono to enhance the site’s aesthetic appeal.

In the new website, viewers will see a search engine at the top of the page, along with buttons for Facebook and Twitter, quick link buttons for online services, residents, business, city government, I want to and Calendars.

In the center will be functions such as Airport, City Clerk’s Office, Fire, Library, Parks/ Recreation and Police, a column for news, a column for events, an interactive calendar inviting visitors to list events, and a weather feature.

Contact information is at the bottom of the page. The mayor, mayor pro-tem and council members’ names are listed. The city’s address and main phone number are also listed.   

Each department’s page will have quick links, contact information and downloadable forms.

Larger photos and slide shows are being incorporated into the website’s new design as well as interactive features.

For example, Lincoln Area Archives Museum pages feature local historian Jerry Logan talking about Lincoln’s history and a slide show of historical photos.

The Parks page has a list of city parks. The button for each park lets the viewer see a photograph of the park as well as a slide show, read a paragraph describing that park and access Yahoo directions to that park.

The second phase will address forms, payment online and a simplified document system.

Initially, 10 city employees will be trained to maintain the new website, according to Whitaker.