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Needham introduces more user-friendly town website

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  July 5, 2013 02:20 PM

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Needham officials have redesigned the town's official website to be more user friendly, launching the new template in an attempt to keep up with the changing needs of the digital age.

The new design was launched last week, and seeks to make it easier to answer frequent questions residents may have, said selectman Dan Matthews.

"We have done an analysis of which pages the public uses most, and we're trying to make it so you can get to those pages quickest," he said over the phone. "On the old site, you sometimes had to click down three or four levels to get through to one."

The new website also feature icons for meeting agendas and minutes, town government job postings, permitting applications, and even a "Hot Topics" feature, which takes visitors to a page with documents that explain the most talked-about issues in town.

The new site also features popular city documents, like town meeting warrants, under the "Publications" tab in "Town Government," and has a "Help Center" button; if users hover over it, the site brings up an option of most frequently-asked questions.

"These are what people call asking Town Hall -- tax rates, or how to register to vote," Matthews said.

Matthews said developers are also introducing an online bill pay feature for people to pay parking tickets, real estate and excise taxes, and water bills.

"The idea is to let people do more and more of their business with town government if they want to through the Internet," Matthews said, noting that anyone wishing to call or visit Town Hall offices are still more than welcome to do so. "The Internet is the new way and we’re trying to make sure that’s available for people."

Town officials are also working on establishing a presence on social media, as indicated by Facebook and Twitter icons on the home page.

"It’s a work in progress, but in the week we’ve had it up, it's looked good," Matthews said.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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