Grosse Pointe City could be building new website

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 13, 2018

GROSSE POINTE CITY — There’s plenty of information on Grosse Pointe City’s website. The trouble is, sometimes that information is hard to find.

That’s one of the many reasons City leaders are taking a serious look at building a new website in the coming fiscal year. City Councilwoman Sheila Tomkowiak, a communications professional, presented the findings of an assessment she and City Manager Pete Dame took of the website and other City communication avenues during a Feb. 12 City Council meeting.

“There is a lot of information that is regularly posted, but it’s not posted in a way that’s easy” to find and understand, Tomkowiak said.

One of the problems is that the current website “is very old,” she said.

The last overhaul of the City’s website was 11 years ago, Dame said.

“A lot’s changed in 11 years,” City Councilman Andrew Turnbull said. He said that the City “needs to improve” owning and communicating its message.

Other officials also agree that the website needs substantial revision.

“The website is terribly difficult to handle,” City Councilman Donald Parthum Jr. said.

Tomkowiak said that at one point, the City had a Facebook page, but it now no longer maintains one. Although social media is one way to reach residents and others, she said social media sites like Facebook require constant monitoring and updating, and the City might not have the resources and staffing to do it. Instead, Tomkowiak said a new, more user-friendly city website could accomplish many of the same goals.

Among the recommended changes are providing information in a “short, punchy,” easily scanned manner, said Tomkowiak. Longer documents could be presented as links. In addition, she suggested making sure that information is presented in layman’s language, not in a bureaucratic way.

The cost to create a new website isn’t as high as it used to be, she said.

A new website is likely to cost the City an estimated $15,000 to $20,000, Dame said.

“There are lots of companies that specialize in government websites,” Tomkowiak said.

At press time, City officials were also contemplating a resident survey that would likely take communication needs and wishes into account. The City Council is expected to approve a list of goals at its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. March 19, although an agenda for that meeting hadn’t been finalized by press time.