Untangled web: Chicago Ridge launches new online site
BY STEVE METSCH email@example.com January 22, 2014 9:19AM
The old website used by the village government of Chicago Ridge was designed 14 years ago, which in technology years is really, really old.
It was slow, confusing and difficult to navigate. So it was with great pride that village officials last week unveiled Chicago Ridge’s new website, which they say is easier to decipher, more user-friendly and more pleasing to the eye.
Plans for the new website were being kicked around for about a year. When George Schleyer was running for village clerk — he won the seat in the spring of 2013 — he vowed to do something to improve the site.
The result can be found by visiting www.chicagoridge.org.
Schleyer was quick to note that the brunt of the work of redesigning and planning the site was done by building department secretary Karen Schmidt; Aurora Melnyk, who works in business licensing and accounts receivable; and information systems specialist Allen Gruszkowski.
Together, they spent countless hours looking for and researching ways to improve the village’s website.
Something had to be done.
Melnyk said the old site “didn’t have as much information and wasn’t as user-friendly for citizens, compared to how friendly websites are now.
“People are used to websites that are easy to use. Everybody kind of has a standard and ours being kind of below that line made ours that much more difficult to navigate,” Melnyk said.
Gruszkowski said the old site “had minimal updates through the years, but it never went any further.
“This is more user-friendly and looks a lot nicer, for one. We hope to expand with online payments. That’s a ways off now. We look to link it with our software. We can do vehicle stickers online and an automatic water payment now from your (bank or checking) account, but that’s it. We’re looking at parking tickets and paying water bills directly,” he said.
Schmidt won’t miss walking residents through the site. She would field phone calls from folks frustrated and have to walk them through the site step by step for seemingly simple tasks such as finding information about a building permit.
“Now when you look at it, it pulls down and there’s all the things residents would need just by clicking on ‘how do I.’ We surveyed a lot of other websites. We really liked the ‘how do I’ feature,” Schmidt said.
Gruszkowski said, “We all liked the slide show” and a feature where a message can be left for village trustees and Mayor Chuck Tokar.
“I love the site, especially the photos,” said Tokar, an amateur photographer whose artwork graces the site. “I like the whole site, the colors, the whole thing.”
CivicPlus is the company that Chicago Ridge worked with for the new website. It also has helped Orland Park and Tinley Park with their websites, Gruszkowski said.
Schleyer was impressed by the work put in by Schmidt, Melnyk and Gruszkowski.
“They spent hours on end on webinars. It was crazy,” Schleyer said at the village hall last week.
The site was up and running Jan. 13.
“A couple of my neighbors said they thought it was nice. I’m going to charge myself with making sure this is kept up to date,” Schleyer said. “In the past, Karen has had problems chasing down department heads and gathering information. I’ll see to it we get the information we need and (will) call them every two weeks.”
He noted that the site has a calendar to keep residents updated on meetings and other events. Included will be meetings associated with the village’s centennial this year.
“We’re going into our second century as a village. We’re bringing the way we provide information into the next century,” Schleyer said.