By Greg Elias
The town of Williston launched a redesigned Web site last week that offers a wealth of information and several new features.
The old site, www.town.williston.vt.us, had been online for at least five years and looked outdated, with underlined hyperlinks and tables to organize information.
The new site remains at the same address, but updates formatting to more modern standards. The home page includes a colorful banner showing Williston scenes and quotes the town's slogan, "Old town charm, new town spirit!" A light green and dark red color scheme highlights columns of links running down each side of the page.
Much of the content from the old site – meeting notices and minutes, contacts for board members, general information about the town – has migrated to the new site. There is, however, some new content and features.
The most notable is the ability to reserve space in town meeting rooms. Users link to a form that can be quickly filled out and sent electronically to Town Hall.
Other features modernize the site and make it easier to use. A calendar on the home page shows meeting dates in a pop-up balloon when you mouse over it. Boxes in the upper right-hand corner of the page allow users to increase and decrease text size.
Much of the redesign was done by Town Manager Rick McGuire. Williston resident Joe Antonioli, a freelance Web site designer, assisted. The update cost $3,600.
The changes will help the town better handle the job of keeping the site current. The old site required McGuire to enter all data. The new site employs software that will allow any town employee to add information.
The site still has some rough edges. Some links don't work as expected. The meeting reservation system shows bookings only for the current month. And the search function returns results from recent documents, not year-old minutes and other information from the old site.
McGuire said the kinks will be ironed out and new information will be added over the next several months. He hopes users will eventually be able to register for programs or pay fees online.
"We're working toward that," he said. "This is just a stepping stone."