Horsham Rural City Council has officially launched its new, more easy to use website

The new look Horsham Rural City Council website features easier to use functions.
The new look Horsham Rural City Council website features easier to use functions.

HORSHAM Rural City Council has officially launched its new website designed to help people connect with council services more quickly and easily.

Construction started in November by developers OpenCities.

Expenditure for updating the website has cost council a total of $44,000.

Council mayor Pam Clarke said the contemporary website enabled people to find the services they needed more easily.

“The website is council’s virtual customer service counter for the community for them to find out what is happening at Council, how to get things done and to look up information at any time of the day or night,” she said.

“The clean, simple look of the site has been designed to meet a high standard of accessibility for people with visual impairments, language restrictions and responds to the technology being used to view it.”

She said the site would also be a great asset for Horsham’s tourism and economic strategies.

“(There are) beautiful photos across the site showing off some of our most spectacular scenery, events and communities,” she said.

“Potential visitors and investors want to know what Horsham has to offer, and we’re showing them on every page.”

Council’s former website was more than five years old and was not mobile friendly.

New features of the updated website include tablet, iPhone and smartphone compatibility; access to online forms that can be submitted to council digitally; and the a function for residents to lodge service requests online.  

Another new feature is the Community Map which provides information to residents about services near to them. 

Residents can also use the map to find their waste collection days.

A Have Your Say page has also been added for people to address their key issues and concerns with council, and access surveys, discussion forums, polls and questions.

Cr Clarke said council averaged more than 400 enquiries at the customer service desks, 500 phone calls and 2000 website visitors each week.

“We are expecting the website traffic to grow throughout 2018 as people find our online services to be an efficient and easy way of staying up to date and accessing services,” she said.

“We know that both young and older people in the region are using digital platforms more and more, including mobile devices.

“We want to make it easy for them.”

A council spokesman said the website had received positive comments from Horsham business representatives.

“This stubble burning season, the farming community has responded positively to a new function which allows fire permits to be obtained online,” he said.

“We’ve had 131 completed responses so far which is a great result.

“There are also feedback forms on every page which we encourage people to submit so that we can continue to improve the website.”

Future enhancements for the website will include screen reader for accessibility, improved Have Your Say design, greater use of local images and an interactive online chat function.

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