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Stillwater, Okla., Taps Vendor for Website Overhaul

City council members unanimously voted to approve the staff recommendation that CivicPlus be contracted to rebuild the city’s public-facing website. Work on the project is slated to begin this summer.

(TNS) — Improvements are coming for the City of Stillwater's website.

On Monday, the Stillwater City Council unanimously approved a motion accepting the staff's recommendation for selecting CivicPlus to provide website services and solutions. Negotiations between CivicPlus and the City of Stillwater will cement a final contract.

The website the city currently uses was purchased in 2016 from Juvo Web Solutions, a local company. Juvo changed ownership in 2017 and, because Stillwater's website was extensively customized, city staff reported that it made maintenance and upgrades more difficult. The site has not been significantly improved since.

Dawn Jones, Stillwater communications director, said while the current website is rich in content, it is lacking in organization, professional appearance and many modern features and functionalities necessary. It does not have online forms and surveys, web apps, ADA compliance, responsive design, 24/7 chatbot service, mobile responsiveness, an enhanced notification system for releases and alerts.

"I'd been one of those community members who have struggled to find information on the website and I'm excited about this," councilor Kevin Clark said. "This is going to be terrific if it all comes together."

The project is planned to begin this summer. Individual modules can be completed ahead of the entire project, so it is possible some parts of the project will go live before others.

"New features can be added year to year," Jones said. "They can also end year to year. We're not locked into anything for a five-year term. It's whatever we would like to change as we go forward and then we can negotiate those."

CivicPlus was one of 10 companies to bid on Stillwater web services. The CivicPlus price was somewhere in the middle according to staff.

The cost approved on Monday is to not exceed $117,000, which includes a 10% contingency and annual website maintenance fee of $50,000. Jones said the funding is included in the communications fiscal year 2023 budget.

A CivicPlus representative at the meeting said CivicPlus pumps "millions and millions" of dollars into security. CivicPlus has multiple undisclosed locations in the United States that house backup data in case of a cyber attack, the rep said adding that if the city website is successfully breached, CivicPlus will be liable.

The services CivicPlus will provide go beyond simply freshening up a website. It will make previously unavailable features like a 24/7 chatbot and surveys designed to give feedback to the city available.

"In developing the new website, citizen engagement will be at the forefront," Jones said. "We need to provide organized content that is easily and readily available and meets the needs of current and future residents and patrons and visitors."

©2022 the Stillwater NewsPress , Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.