While the “Friday afternoon news dump” is a hallmark of media outlets releasing less-than-pleasant news to the public with a minimum of fuss, in Deptford Township, it also meant the rollout of its new and improved website.
Mayor Paul Medany admitted as much during a March 23 conversation with The Sun. Although a soft reveal on a Friday two weeks prior was the plan, he ultimately wanted to have residents access the site and be impressed with the changes when they sought information the following Monday morning.
“We’ve been talking about (site upgrades) for about a year, and we’re always trying to find ways to tweak it,” Medany continued. “I worked on it myself using the Burger King/McDonald theory.”
Referencing the fast-food rivalry where one side made a move to gain customers before the other countered, Medany explained how he personally scoped out more than a dozen other neighboring towns’ sites and compiled pieces of information from all to add things to the Deptford site that he deemed necessary.
“A couple things I saw that we wanted to include were basic needs, things like easy access for service requests, like public works—reporting downed trees and potholes,” he added.
“I wanted it to be more user friendly, for people who aren’t so social media savvy, like myself and others who don’t have a big media presence,” Medany said. “Of course, I also wanted it to look good. I think it really pops now when you look at it.”
While public input was considered, the impetus for the change came primarily from within municipal governance. Asked if there were any complaints from residents or municipal employees, Medany playfully sidestepped the question.
“We never call them complaints. Instead we call them missions,” he said.
In any case, the mission for more responsible government through clearer guidelines didn’t just fall to the civic leader. Over the last year, Medany received assistance from and collaborated with Township Clerk Dina Zawadski and the Administrative Assistant to the Township Manager, Debra Williard. While Medany didn’t mention them specifically, it took just two steps on the new site to confirm each of their names.
That’s the name of the game: how quickly the public is able to find whatever it needs.
“Getting information out is paramount here, and we wanted to make sure we had the most information in the easiest possible manner,” Medany said. “Tabs, videos, directories. In fact we have a ‘find it fast’ button included, too. There are videos, too, including the mayor’s message.”
The reconfigured site had to become easier to navigate, owing to a significant population of older adults who are not as tech savvy as younger generations. Medany envisioned a one-stop shop and constant feed and stream of tidbits pertinent for all ages but still wanted to concentrate on accuracy because of continued concerns over the ongoing pandemic.
Two more positive outcomes in the weeks following the upgrade, Medany noted, were the ability for residents to access the site easier on their phones and to have the township site with pride of place on Google searches.
“We used to be buried, and now we’re so much higher up on the list,” he said.
For those yet to view the new township site, please visit: https://www.deptford-nj.org/.