New City Web site christened

Published 11:38 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The city rolled out a redesigned Web site on Wednesday that eventually will offer new services to Suffolk residents.

The new site was presented to City Council members during the first day of their retreat.

Debbie George, spokeswoman for the city, said the city’s old site contained several broken links and outdated information that did not present a good image of the city.

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“I don’t think that is the thing we want the rest of the world to see,” George said.

With the help of a vendor, the city redesigned the Web site format to become more streamlined, modern-looking and user-friendly. The vendor’s redesign and maintenance services will cost the city about $35,000 annually, George said.

That price represents a significant savings over the salaries and benefits the city used to pay for two positions, one full-time and one part-time webmaster, to maintain the site. Both positions were eliminated in the fiscal year 2008-2009 budget, and the employees chose not to apply for other positions within the city, George said.

Though not all portions of the new site are working yet, city personnel will be fixing problems as they find them in the coming weeks. Once that process is complete, they then will work with the individual department heads to find new services, such as online tax payment, that can be offered to residents.

The new site also includes links to the city’s new Facebook and Twitter accounts. The Facebook account has been open for about two weeks and already has nearly 700 fans, George reported to council members.

“This is how people are communicating now,” George said.

On its Facebook page, Suffolk has let its fans know about upcoming events, road closures, council meetings and other events. A Twitter page automatically picks up the feeds posted to Facebook. The city also has posted videos on YouTube and maintains a MySpace page.

To view the city’s Web site, visit www.suffolk.va.us. For the city’s Facebook page, visit www.facebook.com and search “Suffolk Virginia.” For the Twitter page, visit www.twitter.com/cityofsuffolk.