EDA’s new economic development brochure raises questions about the City’s problematic web site

eda-brochure-spread-sshoteda-brochure-sshotRandy Jennings, Occasional Press, sent me PDFs of the new Northfield brochure that he created for the City of Northfield Economic Development Authority (EDA). 

It is intended to be used as a take-away piece when Economic Development Director, Jody Gunderson, and others meet with business folks and investors considering moving a business to or starting a business in Northfield.

It’s a classy-looking, well-done brochure (and that’s not just because he used some of my photos). I don’t know how much it cost. Anyone?

Continue reading EDA’s new economic development brochure raises questions about the City’s problematic web site

What needs to be changed with the City of Northfield’s web site?

nfld-website-sshot I don’t know if the City of Northfield’s 4-year old website can be easily modified (that was the plan when it was created for $85,000) but it clearly needs improvement. So maybe we can help the City by listing the problems we encounter when using the site and making suggestions for improvement. (Although I do blogsites for a living, I would decline bidding on a revamp of the City’s site, just like I declined to bid on a revamp of the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s website.) (continued)

Continue reading What needs to be changed with the City of Northfield’s web site?

Why Can’t the City Get a Real Webmaster?

City website thumbnail.gif

Normally, I wouldn’t volunteer for something in order to get it done, and then bitch about how one has to volunteer for something in order to get it done. But after spending time I can’t afford, once again manipulating !#&@*# document and image files to upload onto NorthfieldPlan.org in the hopes of making City process more transparent, I’m fed up. It’s high time WE CITIZENS put some real political pressure on.

When the City started the Comprehensive Plan/Land Development Regulations revision process, staff (Brian O’Connell and Dan Olson), the consultants (ACP Visioning and Planning), and the planning commissioners (including Ross and myself) all believed that citizen participation and getting information out was extremely important, and were committed to those ideas. Making information available via the web was a key part of that strategy. The problem was that no one at City Hall really knew how to make that happen. Since I was a True Believer, was moderately web-savvy, and had access to a server, I volunteered to build an officially sanctioned sub-site for the Comp Plan revision process (NorthfieldPlan.org) What can I say, I’m a patsy.

Griff has repeatedly asked the question, Hey, if the City spent $80k on a new website, how come it doesn’t work the way it should? (Actually, the money came out of the EDA, because the EDA members – of whom I was one at the time – believed the song-and-dance about how a good website was an economic development tool. Yeah, it could be. If it actually contained current, timely, useful, interactive, multimedia material. But that’s a whole ‘nother post. And the “new” website is about three years old now.)

Anyway, the content-management system built for the City is fine, but there’s no one minding the store. When the website was done, the understanding was that departments should/would have the freedom to manage their own little online fiefdoms. As a general rule, however, the management level of City staff is just not very tech-literate. I don’t mean that upper-level staff should spend their time uploading files, even if they had the technical skill to do so. In fact, no one would seriously think that a volunteer member of that vortex known as the Planning Commission should spend their time on that task either. What I mean is that since most of the City department heads don’t have a good understand of how Internet technology is being used or where it’s going, in either municipal or other contexts, it’s difficult for them to wrap their heads around what can or should be made available on the City website. Some of the administrative staff might have a better understanding of that, but they don’t have the authority to determine what should be put online or to be proactive enough to seek content.

Continue reading Why Can’t the City Get a Real Webmaster?

Muni web page not updated – again

The City of Northfield’s Municipal Liquor Store is hosting a wine-tasting event tonight at the Grand. The first one held earlier this year was fantastic and I hope to be there again tonight.

muniscreenshot092106.pngRoss Currier posted about it to his NDDC blog and Lora Steil, NEG publisher for By All Means Graphics did her part and posted about it on N.org, but there’s nothing about the event on the City Calendar web page/RSS feed, nor is there anything on the City’s Liquor Store page. (Screenshot on the left was taken at 10 am today. Click to enlarge.)

I’m increasingly irritated with the City’s use, or lack thereof, of its new web site. We taxpayers paid Mike Bollinger and his crew at Livefront a ton of money — $60,000 or more — for a very good web site and some staffers aren’t using it like it’s intended to be used.

But rather than whine in general, I’ll be specific and whine about wine. (More whining about other aspects of the site to come later.)

portrait-delong.jpgI asked store manager Stephen DeLong about this at their last event at the Grand and he indicated that he’d soon get up to speed. I guess I’ll bug him again, this time with a link to this blog entry.

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