Tewksbury has debuted a new website at the same address, www.tewksbury-ma.gov, that offers simplified navigation, an opportunity for residents to establish accounts and interact more directly with local government and the ability for staff to more quickly update information.
The reimagined website features a modern look with important upgrades to navigation and usability, said community/economic development planner Alexandra Lowder, who led the site redesign and migration effort on the staff side, along with town clerk Denise Graffeo.
There have been changes to improve accessibility, with optional language translations and better compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The content is the same that users would find on the old platform, with better organization and an enhanced ability to sign up for e-alerts and explore department webpages.
The site redesign was a priority for Select Board member James Mackey, who included transparency and ease of access to information for residents on his platform. That resonated with voters in the last town election: Mackey, a first-time candidate, won his seat in a four-way race.
“The older platform was a bit cumbersome to use,” he said. “It was difficult to navigate, and it didn’t allow for integration of any new technologies that the town either is looking to get or currently has. By moving to this new platform we were able to do a lot of things with, as Alex mentioned, compliance and making it a bit more user friendly. But the overall goal was access to information.”
Town staff undertook the effort to start from scratch with a completely new design. After a seven-month process, final touches have been made — for now. There are still upgrades to come, including more automated technologies to streamline everyday processes, like bill payment. These changes are expected to roll out over the next several months.
Other benefits of the new site include an ability to gather data on unique visitors and what pages they’re going to the most. The staff can then surface popular resources. In addition, there are better self-service capabilities compared with the old site, so information should stay more current.
“We have a really nice ability to be able to set different levels of permissions for different users,” said Lowder. “We are able to give more control at the staff level for each department.”
Graffeo praised the site’s clean look and the ease with which staff can make changes and upload agendas and other information.
“We’re still learning a lot as we dig in, and now that we are live, I’m excited to really see some of the new capabilities,” she said.
While most of the content migration effort was completed ahead of the launch, there are still older documents that will be added to the website in coming weeks. And, Lowder adds that residents may need to reset bookmarks for their favorite pages.
Those who previously subscribed to receive notifications on any given item should continue to get those updates. If they don’t, or if a resident is looking for a document that is not on the site, Graffeo says to reach out to her office via the new contact form or at 978-640-4355.
“That was one of the most important things for me, not to miss a beat on that,” she said.