The website, which was only commissioned last month, won the Best Redevelopment Website and Best Redevelopment Website (People's Choice) at the national ALGIM (Association of Local Government Information Management) Web Awards this week.
The website is far more comprehensive than the original website and incorporates a range of services that users will find very valuable.
Of particular interest is the A to Z Directory of Council services which is available on every page. This service is designed to allow people to find information on Council services using their own wording which is very helpful when they don't know the exact terminology.
Web Manager, Hamish Richardson, says the Council wanted this service to be customer friendly and not force its own jargon on the public. "There's nothing more frustrating for people when they need to access information but don't have the correct wording," he says.
Also of note is the website's capacity for users to pay rates on line with credit cards and to participate in a 24/7 live chat session with a Customer Service Centre officer about Council issues.
A user can open up the live session and be instantly connected with the officer. The user simply types in their request and they'll get a prompt response much in the same way as any online instant messaging. "A number of people have tried out the service and have been impressed with the response," Hamish says.
Other features include an improved cemetery information search and an in-house property mapping service called Geo-Guide which allows users to search for information on property, rates and legal descriptions. The site also has an improved level of general information about Palmerston North for local, national and international audiences.
The next phase of the project in the 2008/2009 financial year will include a "request for service system" where people can place a request online for the particular service(s) they require and a community directory which will allow sports clubs and community organisations to register their contact information on the website.
The new website is proving very popular.
Since going live in mid-April the site has received in excess of 88,000 page views.
"Visitors to the website have appreciated its enhanced usability, its ease in seeking information and completing tasks on line," Hamish says.