Shoreview’s new website caters to mobile users

City services, simple and accessible on the go — that was Shoreview’s main goal when it set out to update its two city websites. 

Barely a notion a decade ago, the ability to do all things remotely — on a mobile phone no less — is almost a given now, and where smartphone-specific apps aren’t available, there are usually mobile-friendly webpages, scaled down and purposed for touchscreens. 

Up until recently, though, Shoreview’s website wasn’t nearly as accessible on smartphones or tablets as it is now.  

According to Shoreview City Manager Terry Schwerm, analytics showed that almost half the people who were visiting the city’s two websites were doing so on mobile devices. 

“The problem was that the old websites weren’t meant for mobile devices,” Schwern said, explaining that navigating the pages on small touchscreens was finicky and required zooming in and other maneuvers.

Predicting the percentage of mobile users would only grow in the future, Shoreview, which has two separate municipal sites — one for City Hall and the other for the city’s community center — decided it was time to update both.

Back in 2012, when Shoreview chose Vision Internet to build and design its sites, a one-time free upgrade was included for one of the two as part of the contract. 

In August, 2016, the Shoreview City Council unanimously decided to use that free upgrade, agreeing to pay $28,500 for the upgrade of the second site.

According to Renee Eisenbeisz, assistant to the city manager, since the two websites went live at the end of June, there’s already been an uptick in visits from mobile device users. 

At this point — only a couple months in — about 64 percent of the visits to the community center’s site are via mobile devices, she said, adding that the number for the city hall site is at about 58 percent from mobile users, and rising. 

Eisenbeisz explained that when the city began looking at an update, city staff and the folks at Vision Internet were able to use “heat maps” to track which links people were clicking, how much time they spent on each page and how many clicks it took to get to their destination.

Using that data, they set out to build a website that featured more simple navigation, prioritizing the most sought-after webpages, such as those for online payments, jobs, permits, the Parks and Recreation page, and of course, the home page, Eisenbeisz said. 

“Now the majority of people get what they’re looking for on the main page or within one to two clicks,” she said, noting that it used to frequently take people more than six clicks to find the pages they were searching for. 

To try your hand at the new websites, visit www.shoreviewmn.gov and www.shoreviewcommunitycenter.com.

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815


 

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