Local firm to redesign Oak Bay website

Up and coming web designers will develop municipality’s new site with innovative features, says mayor

The vision of a new municipal website is becoming clearer.

Based on advice from staff, Oak Bay council has chosen a local design company to develop a new site for the municipality.

Using leading-edge technology, the website will be modern and interactive, according to Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.

“It will be vibrant, dynamic, and informative,” he said. “It’s going to be easy to navigate, easier to search, and we’ll have innovative features on it that we’ll work to develop.”

One feature will include email notifications to residents wanting to stay up-to-date with certain topics as changes or additions are made by council. It will also enable residents to access more detailed information, such as bylaws and other municipal regulations not currently available on the municipality’s website.

“It’ll be more user-friendly, from not only the public’s point of view, but our staff’s point of view,” he said, adding it will allow staff to easily update content.

“The goal is for us to enable a proactive tool for us to be able to communicate. Now we’re constrained on getting information out there,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch, who will chair the website steering committee. “The old, manual process is so cumbersome that nothing ever gets changed or updated.”

The new format will also allow people to access the municipality’s website on their mobile phones without losing any of the content.

“The mobile portion is getting more and more important all the time,” added Murdoch. “We’re almost looking at mobile first so that everything’s available or readable on every device.”

Council was looking for a design team that had experience and an innovative, imaginative approach to take on the project.

A large number of companies submitted requests to design the site, Jensen said, and UpanUp, the chosen web designers, fit the bill.

“They provided everything that we had asked for, including great enthusiasm,” Jensen said.

Jensen estimates it will take four to six months to develop and launch the site. The hope is to have it up and running late this fall.

The estimated cost of the project is less than $50,000.

“At the end of the day pretty graphics are great, but if the information is not there, there is no actual value to the website – and that is our primary concern,” said Murdoch.

Residents who applied to be on the website’s steering committee were chosen during the in camera portion of Monday night’s council meeting. The group will work with Murdoch and Coun. Michelle Kirby, along with two members of Oak Bay staff.