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St. Clair Shores

January 31, 2013

New look, features dominate city website

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

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New look, features dominate city website
The new website design for www.scsmi.net is set to debut in February.

A half-year’s worth of work will pay off soon when a new website from the City of St. Clair Shores goes live.

Designed by CivicPlus, the city’s new website promises to offer information to residents in an easier-to-find manner, while also making it possible to live-stream or watch stored videos of City Council meetings and have customized content emailed directly to residents.

The new site will feature a “home port” with pictures supplied by local photographers. Communications Director Mary Jane D’Herde said they will be looking for submissions on a regular basis.

“Just send me your photos in a JPG to maryjane@scsmi.net,” she said Jan. 21. “We’ll put them in our photo gallery, we’ll put them in our slide shows and you can be a star.”

But more than just putting the image of a lakefront community on the Internet, the new site has a pull-down menu of “How Do I” with frequently asked questions, like how to pay a water bill or report an issue, and an “About Us” section with a history of St. Clair Shores and a list of local charities and organizations.

The “City Hall” tab is where residents will find the operations of the city, including future City Council agendas, packets and minutes, while the “Residents” tab includes a guide for new residents. There is also a “Business” tab to help companies looking to research the city and possibly relocate here.

Four large buttons surrounding the home-port photograph allow residents to “report a concern,” which will be automatically directed by the website to the correct department; find “online services,” which will develop and increase as city departments become more familiar with they can move online; ask the website to “notify me” when the visitor wants to know of an agenda change, changes to the calendar, or if something has been posted; and also a button for the “media center.”

City Councilman John Caron, who was a member of the website committee, said the media center is where residents will see live-streaming City Council meetings beginning Feb. 4 and will also be able to find archived meetings — which aren’t available with the current website — as well as videos like “Local Matters,” “Council Connection” and other St. Clair Shores cable TV offerings. The new site allows up to 80 hours of programming to be saved.

The front page of the site will also include a calendar of upcoming events, recent city news, a link to the city’s Facebook page and links directly to city departments. It also has a search function that wasn’t available on the old site.

Caron said they hope to have the new site online by the evening of Jan. 31 so that on the “morning of Feb. 1, the new site’s going to be up, live and kicking away.”

But D’Herde said that doesn’t mean the site will be finished.

“This is a living entity,” she said. “We will never, ever be finished with it. We will always be changing it. We will always be making future enhancements.”

Caron said the Parks and Recreation Department is working with CivicPlus to be able to merge its reservation software system with the website for things like tee times or reserving baseball diamonds.

“They want to be able to take online tee times by the start of the season,” Caron said. “Doing that with Parks and Recreation will be a good first step of expanding the website.”

The new website, like the current one, will be found at www.scsmi.net.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.