Hawley officials eye website redesign

  • The homepage of the Hawley town website. SCREENSHOT

Staff Writer
Published: 2/3/2023 3:36:29 PM

HAWLEY — In the wake of multiple residents taking a step back from overseeing the town website, the Communications Committee is considering how to change the website moving forward.

“For what it was when it came out it was good,” said Communications Committee member Hussain Hamdan. “We appreciate the volunteers who made it. But times have changed (and) we should change with them.”

Hawley’s website was designed in 2013. Unlike many of the region’s municipal websites, its engineering was completely executed in-house and with volunteer help.

The expectation for the website in 2013 was that traffic would come completely from desktop computers. However, the website is awkward to look at using a smartphone.

“The overall look of it needs to be modified to be friendly to mobile users,” Hamdan said. He also explained much of the website’s organization needs to be updated.

Currently, the town pays about $100 per year for the website’s hosting, compared to many other towns that pay $2,500 to $3,000 to manage their websites.

Hamdan said Hawley has many options moving forward. The website as it is can simply be updated or the town could have a complete redesign from a third-party vendor to make it more user-friendly.

Additionally, the town will need to consider if it has only enough money to pay a host fee, or if there is enough money to pay a company to design the website, provide technical support and manage the site moving forward.

One thing town officials hope to accomplish with any decision they make is to provide training on how to post on the website for some individuals in town, including the administrative assistant and police and fire chiefs. Currently, Rick Kean, the website manager, must be emailed every time a town official wishes to upload something.

Hamdan mentioned the town could use grants or American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the initial redesign of the website. The annual upkeep of the website must be funded through the town budget itself because grants often do not cover recurring expenses. The Communications Committee hopes to not spend more than $800 per year on the website.

“We could get the Cadillac option with ARPA funds, but we are concerned about the upkeep of the website,” Hamdan continued.

The Communications Committee does not think Hawley needs the best website available — simply a functional website that can convey the information residents need.

“We are not Northampton or New York City,” Hamdan said.

New chair to be chosen

Lark Thwing, the former Communications Committee chair who initially designed the website, officially stepped down in the Jan. 27 meeting. The committee will select a new chair at its next meeting.

Bella Levavi can be reached at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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