Calling legacy websites: ProudCity seeks pilot city partners
- By Amanda Ziadeh
- Mar 25, 2016
The small town of West Carrollton, Ohio, took a big step when it became a pilot for ProudCity, a new cloud service that helps cities launch and manage websites. Working with ProudCity, the town replaced its outdated content management system and built a new resident-centered, mobile-friendly website that was easy for the town’s small staff to manage. Now the company is looking for the next pilot city.
ProudCity helps smaller municipalities easily launch and manage government digital services. For a monthly fee that's pegged to the local population size, cities can get a secure, cloud-hosted service that integrates web tools and preconfigured components – or they can download the WordPress-based code and host the site themselves.
Pilot cities get one year of free, secure website hosting and support, a self-managed content management system, integration of third-party tools and consulting services from the ProudCity founders. As the first pilot city, West Carrollton was able launch its new website in 60 days. The new site features a modern responsive design and individual pages for residents, businesses, visitors, news, events and city departments.
Setting up on ProudCity was easy, West Carrollton Public Relations Coordinator Erika Mattingly told GCN. The beta site was built in about one month, with only Mattingly herself and one secretary working on it. “To be honest, when we started the project, I didn’t think that would be possible,” she said.
The back-end of the new site “is so much easier to use than our previous site,” she said. "We've saved a lot of staff time when making the day-to-day changes and updates."
Besides allowing more frequent updates, ProudCity offers faster support times, HTTPS encryption to protect user privacy and a dashboard for city managers to easily monitor analytics, which has been a huge convenience, Mattingly said.
Before, the city didn’t have easy access to analytics, so better data was one of the reasons the city was interested in using the platform. “Now we will be able to make adjustments to the site as we see how people are using it,” she said.
The new website easily integrated with PayPal, the third-party payment system West Carrollton uses, and Esri’s ArcGIS, the geographic information system software the city already had.
So far, residents can make payments on taxes, building permits, water bills and pay court fines on the new website, and West Carrollton officials hope to gradually add additional services like paying for recreation programs and reserving shelters and community rooms. The city is also experimenting with its new ability to create online interactive forms, which were difficult to manage in the old system.
And while ProudCity got West Carrollton started by showing the staff how to create events, pages, forms and documents, the staff quickly took the reins and is doing the rest of the day-to-day updates, with help from a chat feature that allows them to ask questions as they come.
“All in all, building and editing pages, incorporating photos, and creating links to documents is so much easier than it was before,” Mattingly said.
Now, ProudCity is looking for its next pilot cities. The company is accepting applications from interested cities through March 30. The chosen towns will get help assessing their current digital systems and transitioning onto the platform along with a year of free ProudCity services. ProudCity pledges to work with cities to launch a live beta website in 30 days, with the official debut in 60 days.
Amanda Ziadeh is a Reporter/Producer for GCN.
Prior to joining 1105 Media, Ziadeh was a contributing journalist for USA Today Travel's Experience Food and Wine site. She's also held a communications assistant position with the University of Maryland Office of the Comptroller, and has reported for the American Journalism Review, Capitol File Magazine and DC Magazine.
Ziadeh is a graduate of the University of Maryland where her emphasis was multimedia journalism and French studies.
Click here for previous articles by Ms. Ziadeh or connect with her on Twitter: @aziadeh610.