Yarmouth seeks better communication, launches new website

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YARMOUTH — The town has launched a redesigned website as part of an effort to improve communications with residents.

The new website went live at the end of September. The redesign was done using GovOffice, the same web designers who made the old site, but the town chose an updated service.

The cost of the new website was $4,500, plus an additional $395 to make the site mobile friendly.

The project was led by Town Clerk Jennifer Doten, Finance Director Dawn Madden and Economic Development Director Denise Clavette. The idea came after town councilors said they wanted a more organized Internet presence.

“Last year, the town decided it was time to refresh the content, emphasize current information and make the site more user-friendly,” Doten said. “Rather than make site improvements, it was decided that developing a new website was the best option to stay with current technology and to make website navigation better for the public.”

Town Manager Nat Tupper said the old website confused many residents.

“People thought our website was boring and difficult to navigate,” he said.

Doten said the new website is a big improvement, and reaction to the new site has been positive.

“Some people were confused where to find things (on the old site) and we hope to alleviate that with the new site,” she said. “People like the flow of it and the ease of finding things.”

The new site includes drop-down navigation menus, and it has more photos and graphics.

“Photos were chosen to help promote Yarmouth in a way that reminds people that we are a place to live, work and play,” Doten said.

The redesign is part of a larger effort to reach out to residents and make information more easily accessible.

“The town’s always looking for better ways to communicate with residents,” Doten said.

The town has also been using Facebook to disperse information. The town council has a Facebook page, too, which was started by Councilor Andy Kittredge, who ran it before the entire council took it over. Other departments in town also have Facebook pages.

Tupper said using Facebook is a great way to reach people who don’t check the town website, attend council meetings, or watch the meetings on TV. He said councilors still want to better utilize the town’s TV system,  and replay meetings more often so more people have more opportunities to watch them.

Tupper said councilors also want to use the TV bulletin board feature more often and keep it updated.

The town has also started a newsletter to keep people aware of various issues.

According to Tupper, the council will also be changing its meeting format starting this month. Councilors have been making public announcements at the end of meetings, but will now be doing them at the beginning before getting into the meeting agenda. 

Councilors also want all meeting materials to be available online with Town Council agendas.

But Tupper said uploading all the documents and organizing them for each meeting would be difficult without hiring a new staff person. He said there are no plans to do this because of the cost to the town.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

The town of Yarmouth has launched its redesigned website at yarmouth.me.us.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.