For the second year, Google has awarded one city in each state the Google eCity award. This award represents the strongest online business community in that particular state. Along with independent research firm Ipsos MORI, Google analyzed the online strength of local small businesses in cities in all fifty states and the city with the highest scores in each state was designated a Google eCity.
And guess what?
This year, the eCity winner for the state of Alabama was awarded to none other than our client, the City of Pelham. The report states: “At Pelham’s online Action Center, residents can report everything from water leaks to animals needing rescue.” We made a lot of changes when we created Pelham’s site — we improved navigation to be more intuitive so Pelham residents can find what they’re looking for more easily, and we also made the search function more robust to make searching quick and easy.
But it’s the Action Center that really stood out to Google, and it’s no wonder, because it solves a problem that a lot of cities have: Residents find it difficult to report problems. At the Action Center, you can choose from a drop-down menu of common problems and services like “missing or damaged street sign,” “request a new recycle bin,” or “water leak” — services that often don’t get reported quickly in other cities because citizens don’t know where to find them. The Pelham Action Center makes it easy, and you don’t have to know the department in charge of the problem to get it reported — the site does that job and routes the information where it needs to go.
We love that this site has helped Pelham grow as a community and can assist Pelham residents in getting the services they need easily. But it’s also a lesson that anyone developing a website can learn from — instead of just following the status quo and creating a new version of a site you’ve always had, really think about what your users want, and don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board when it comes to navigation and user experience.