Madison Heights launches new website

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 20, 2017

File photo

MADISON HEIGHTS — The city of Madison Heights is refreshing its website, www.madison-heights.org, with the goal of organizing information in a more user-friendly way.

At press time, the rollout was scheduled for June 15, although this was subject to change. Those using mobile devices should notice a dramatic improvement, officials said, and those looking for volunteer opportunities or other info will be able to find it more quickly with streamlined processes for the City Clerk’s Office and community development.

The emphasis is on fast-loading, simple-to-navigate pages that city departments will use to share important news, updates on public events and more. The website will be able to help current and potential residents locate nearby parks and other amenities, and learn how to apply for permits and animal licenses, among other things. 

“For many people, especially when they’re house hunting, a city consists of its website and social media presence,” said Madison Heights Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss via email. “We just added new street signage to help them find their way in our downtown district. This website is the e-version of that need. These days, if people can’t find it, they assume you don’t have it. It’s our job as a city to communicate who we are, simply and efficiently. That’s what this website refresh will do.”

Bliss first proposed the site overhaul as a City Council goal last year. It was approved by council, and then the city’s Information Technology Advisory Committee, or ITAC, began studying the concept, analyzing the weaknesses of the old site. CivicPlus was contracted to design the layout and make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which meant improving its readability. Efforts were also made to make the site more engaging, improving the city’s overall image.

“Also, through the council internship program, we revealed our initial draft at an ITAC meeting and were able to get some additional feedback from our high school mock council members that impacted the finished product,” Bliss said.

The website was just one of the projects worked on by ITAC. The committee was unanimously approved by council in February 2014 and was completely filled the same month. There are currently around eight members on ITAC, who meet at City Hall on an as-needed basis as projects come up.

To date, ITAC has worked on such projects as completing a strategic plan for information technology in the city, reorganizing the city’s IT department, overhauling video production capabilities, getting City Council meetings online, adding battery backups to the city’s IT infrastructure, replacing the city’s dated telecommunications system, upgrading the city’s email client, adding city-run social media pages and hiring a social media intern.

“We’ll have a meeting to discuss new ideas later this year, but past discussions have highlighted a desire to create technology-related programming, add more online payment options and continue the shift to cloud-based technologies where applicable,” Bliss said.

Madison Heights Mayor Brian Hartwell said the new site has a cleaner look and represents a true leap forward in functionality. He praised ITAC for its work. 

“A modern city must use modern tools to communicate to its residents,” Hartwell said via email. “ITAC, the brainchild of Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss and City Council, has proven to be a winner.”