Encinitas launches updated, streamlined city website


After nearly a year of development, the city of Encinitas rolled out a new website at the end of February. View the site at http://ci.encinitas.ca.us/. (North Coast Current photo)

Michele Leivas

Encinitas has undergone a makeover — a digital makeover, that is.

After nearly a year of development, the city of Encinitas rolled out a new website at the end of February that features a more intuitive, user-friendly layout.

The new format, launched Feb. 25, has eliminated much of the clutter from the old website’s main page, opting instead for a more stream-lined design that allows for easier access to city news and information by residents.

“The city of Encinitas and our City Council in particular are very, very committed to providing our community members with accurate, timely information so they can be informed about what’s happening in their city and are empowered to be active participants in the civic engagement process,” said Pauline Colvin, executive assistant to the city manager. “It was the council’s decision based on some input that we got through a resident satisfaction survey to revamp the website to make it more visually appealing, more intuitive and easier to navigate.”

The city opted to bring the construction and hosting of the new website in-house instead of contracting out to an independent host, said Acting IT Department Manager Wendy Flynn. In addition to costly overhead to alter the main page and the overall design of the site, Flynn said the city had to deal with “unplanned outages” or downtime on the site that officials believed could be avoided by bringing it in-house.

The project, which took nearly a year to complete, underwent a “soft launch” to allow the city’s IT department to work out any kinks with the new site before it was heavily publicized or marketed to city residents. Another reason for the soft launch, Flynn said, was to give Google time to “crawl” the website “in order to optimize the searching so we wanted to make sure the searching was optimized before we advertised it.”

While much of the information on the site is the same, the way it is presented to visitors has changed completely.

“Our council is always looking for out-of-the-box tools to make it easy for our residents to interact with the city and also access information,” Colvin said, “so a lot of the information is the same as our last website that we had but it’s just easier and more intuitive to find.”

A key feature of the new site is its responsive design and its ability to adapt to the device from which a user accesses it. The web design team implemented new technology that allows the website to conform to the device being used to access it — be it a desktop computer, laptop, iPhone, Android or tablet — to present an easy-to-navigate layout for the user.

“I think our last website was a little outdated, and with the new responsive design coming in, that was one of the things that our council decided, you know, I think we need to move with the times a little bit on that one and take a look at the website,” said Colvin. “It’s time for it to have a new, fresh look and keep up with technology.”

The site’s address is http://ci.encinitas.ca.us/.

Michele Leivas is a North Coast Current contributing writer