Editor's Note: The original launch date of today was postponed one day.
The town website has undergone a facelift, which is set to launch tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 25).
Tapped by the Connecticut Post as one of the state’s most informative and well-designed sites in cyberspace, a website that residents continue to log on to for all things Oxford has been given an impressive make-over.
Bretty Olbrys, vice chairman of the town’s website committee, said when the site was initially redesigned in 2008, it averaged between 4,000 to 5,000 hits a month, which translated to about 60,000 hits that year. Each year after that, the site’s popularity continued to grow, averaging about 110,000 hits per year. And so far this year, Olbrys said the site has already surpassed 250,000 hits, which prompted the committee to add some exciting new features, streamline the site’s appearance and make it more user-friendly and interactive. (.)
“The site continues to grow and grow and become more popular,” Olbrys said. “We want to keep it new and exciting, so we refreshed the look and made the site more interactive.”
Olbrys unveiled the streamlined site during this week‘s Board of Selectmen meeting.
One of the newest features, Olbrys said, allows residents to sign up, for free, to receive an email or text message anytime new meeting agendas or meeting minutes are available online. Users can pick and choose exactly which board and commission agendas and/or minutes they want to receive a message alert about.
Another important feature will be a “breaking news” or “emergency alert” message that will appear in a red bar at the top of the home page. Everything from an Amber alert to an emergency evacuation can be posted there.
“This feature will help the town spread the word about emergencies,” Olbrys said.
Selectman David Yish said improving communication and notifying residents about emergency situations has been a focus since Tropical Storm Irene blew into town in August, putting the town’s emergency procedures to the ultimate test.
“This (new website feature) is another way to get the word out to people,” Yish added.
Olbrys said there will be less “scrolling” involved in order to access information on the home page, and everything from the community calendar and public notices will be centrally located on the home page, without any unnecessary searching.
“You want to avoid as much scrolling as possible, and put as much pertinent information in front of the user as possible,” he said.
And with the municipal election right around the corner, Olbrys said links to election information, as well as a sample ballot, will also be available on the newly designed site.
First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers said she was impressed with the changes, and especially how the site still maintains its familiar look and user-friendliness, but with a kick.
“It’s been streamlined and it’s been changed for the better, yet it’s still recognizable,” she said. “It’s important that you kept enough of the structure there so people can recognize it. I am very pleased with what has been presented, and I applaud the committee for their hard work.”
Oxford’s website can be found at www.oxford-ct.gov.