New town website set to launch next week in North Smithfield

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The town's current website will remain live for a trial period following the launch.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – A town website that officials say will be more modern-looking and easier to navigate is set to launch next week, replacing the current town page thanks to an upgrade funded in part through the 2023 budget.

Councilor Douglas Osier said the launch of North Smithfield’s new online home is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m.

“Like with any IT project, that could change,” Osier told his fellow councilors at a meeting this week.

The driving force in pushing the initiative forward last June, Osier has also helped out with the process, working with Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski and Finance Director Antony St. Onge to solicit feedback from town department heads.

“They’re the ones that are in it every day,” he said of the site.

“I kind of became the point person, just because I was so invested in it during the budget process,” Osier explained, speaking later with NRI NOW. “There was a lot of momentum after the budget, and we just wanted to keep that going.”

The $30,000 expense for the makeover will be spread out over three years, with the prior vendor, Civic Plus, adding a complete upgrade to its annual contract with the town. Osier said the new site will, “make things more centralized,” with updates such as embedding the town’s YouTube channel into page, so users don’t have to leave the site. He noted that the aim is to offer a more modern experience where items are, “organized more intuitively.”

“The functionality is kind of there to build out as well,” he said.

The councilor noted that when the site goes live next week, it will be something of a soft launch, as improvements are ongoing. Initially, he noted, the town’s current site will remain live in case any major issues are discovered.

“It continues to be a work in progress,” Osier said. “Bear with us. Some of the functionality will build out.”

Civic Plus has created the design and layout, also training department heads on how to use the new tools. Regular maintenance and updates, the councilor said, should be much easier going forward.

“Civic Plus has been fantastic to work with,” Osier said. “It’s much improved.”

The councilor pushed the upgrade forward as part of the budget process last year, pointing out that North Smithfield hadn’t updated it’s online presence in around six years, and that users would frequently come up against old documents and dead ends.

“It was long overdue for an update. There’s a lot of old documents still on there,” he said, noting the new site is similar to what other towns currently provide.

“The hope is it’s easier to navigate, a little more intuitive, it looks a little more modern and it’s more of an one stop shop,” said Osier.

Initial feedback on the changes, he noted, has been good. A preview of the site was shared with the council, along with an invitation to share the draft site with others to hear their thoughts.

“It was kind of up to each individual council member,” said Osier.

Once the new site is deemed reasonably functional, the final steps in the process will include redirecting the old town website to the new location, and creating a new “.gov” address.

“It’s going to look different,” said Osier. “This will really allow us to increase transparency in the town.”

The Thursday launch, he noted, is firm assuming there are no major issues.

“Sometimes things pop up. I don’t anticipate there being any major delays…maybe a few days,” he said. “Hopefully people like it and we can continue to build it out more over time.”

NRI NOW will publish a link to the town of North Smithfield’s new website on this story once it goes live.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. The new NS website is up but we still have the same stale data. For example when you go to the police department page and view the police logs, the logs are from 2016. Second when you search of google for a specific department the link brings you to the main page and not the page you selected. While the new website looks more appealing from a presentation standpoint the content is still lacking. Great idea but no buy in from the departments to update content for the citizens of NS.

  2. The ‘.gov’ TLD does also have an SSL cert from the feds but it’s not any more effective than normal ones. Also the TLD and any security functions like MFA are totally separate.

  3. I think having having not only more transparency, but having each department being able to update different things will be a huge benefit to us taxpayers in town!
    Kudos Doug and everyone involved!!

    • Agreed, we definitely need much more transparency in this town. This new website should be updated weekly. To that end, I would like to see each departments monthly report in it’s entirety posted after each TC meeting. Little information is known to the taxpayers and that definitely has to change.

  4. A new website is great but the website is all about useful content. The current website has outdate and old information dating back 10 years. For example the town council page has the financial impact of the police contract that ended in 2019. If departments do not constantly update the website with current content a new website will still not be useful to the public.

    • The only difference between a “.gov” TLD and a “.org” is that you need an OK from the feds first. Once they give it to you, it works exactly the same. The only increase in security comes from users trusting “.gov” more, it doesn’t actually make the site any more secure.

      • Not the only difference. It helps enforce some basic posture that we should have but is not enforced on .org. Multi-factor authentication, HTTPS only connections, and they are harder to spoof. Oh and they are FREE. This town could use all of the above.

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