Letter to The Auroran : burying our town’s website

Website

The Town of Aurora’s website has been dead for over 12 years but never got a proper burial. 

In fact the town seems to be in denial of the website’s demise and instead has decided to prop it up and continue to add  news, pics, comments and info to its rotting corpse.  It’s kind of like living in a remake of “Weekend at Bernie’s” without any of the humor.

I decided it was long overdue to read the last rites, slam the coffin door shut and send it back to the depths of hell EvilDead style where it must have been purchased for all of $29.99 those so many years ago.

I wrote a wake-up letter to our local paper (see attached .pdf) and in it referred to it as a “bi-polar whore”.
That’s right I said bi-polar…woooooooooh, edgy. 
I chose those words as that was the most positive metaphor I could come up with. 

And how did I arrive at that exactly? See it for yourself:
http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/aurora/index_e.aspx?ArticleID=3

Ouch, now rest your eyes while you think : What the heck was that?

It’s very design is a barrier to entry, it’s structure is poorly conceived. 
It is the farthest thing from being considered user-friendly, in fact it is the exact opposite. 
Is this the message the town is looking to convey?

If you were able to navigate around the site and find the section regarding economic development adorned with it’s fantastic Microsoft Works clip-art you would be more confused by the words that are posted there.

“Do you like small towns?  we can be that” no, “do you like big towns?  oh we do that to!”.
“okay who are we kidding Aurora is desperate, we want your business and we will do anything to get it!”   

The only thing it doesn’t have is have a huge emblazoned sign on the front page that says “we accept the following forms of payment: cash, credit, Canadian tire money….”

A town cannot parade themselves around and expect to be taken seriously when they use this epic failure for a web presence.

The town of Aurora website fails in comparison to several municipalities:

http://www.caledon.ca/
http://www.eastgwillimbury.ca/site3.aspx
http://www.barrie.ca/Home.cfm?C=5224&SC=1&SCM=0&MI=2&L1M=2
http://www.city.vaughan.on.ca/
http://www.markham.ca/Markham/
http://www.town.georgina.on.ca/

If the entire “Economic Development Strategy” is as pathetic as the website the town is in for some serious trouble ahead. 

Scared that this might be true I reviewed the document and here are the oversights and omissions I could identify at first reading:

2. “Market’ the Product – Improve the Town’s efforts to ‘Market’ Aurora as a premier and desirable business address.

Outright fail.  

The town of Aurora has proven the opposite, that it does not possess the skills or consult with those that do, to market themselves properly in the 21st century.  If you bother to read the sub topics to the “Marketing” topic you find:

“G. Straighten the Town’s ‘Welcome Mat’.”

What the hell are these guys smoking? 

I’m sorry did I miss something, the town has an actual welcome mat, or again is someone trying to be too clever for their own good.  Regardless what does this mean and what does it have to do with marketing?

Reading on the summary for the “Purpose of an Economic Development Strategy” is flowery and overly wordy weighing almost a page.  It says little, but does state:

“Creating an economic development strategy is about making a conscious and proactive effort to shape the economic future of Aurora”

This document is from 2003, The current council was elected in 2006, we’re now ending 2009 so what gives?

I’m sure it would be convenient for the current term of councilors & mayor to pass the buck and say that they inherited this mess and that they were powerless to exert any change, I expect to see that spin from them soon.

However the “Economic Development Advisory Committee” has the following members of council:

Wendy Gaertner, Evelina MacEachern & Al Wilson, oh and lets not forget Mayor Phyllis Morris (listed Ex-Officio)

Who exactly has been pro-active?  Unconscious is more like it.  Shame on all of you!

I particularly like the closing which states:

“Environments change and conditions in the community will bring new issues and pressures, but these shifts should not paralyze leadership and result in a ‘status quo’ attitude.”

That would sum up the “Economic Development Advisory Committee” exactly except for “status quo” attitude. 

The reason I took the time to investigate what might seem to be a trivial matter to some, is that this is where our tax dollars get spent, and here in Aurora our taxes are very high.

It is an embarrassment to send anyone to our town’s website.

I expect much better from those that are elected.  And if they choose to undertake initiatives and write prose and dream up grandiose mission statements then the better sure as hell deliver.  Failing that “status quo” shouldn’t be too hard to shoot for.

I continue to agree with the “not-so silent majority in this town” that Aurora deserves better, much better on so many fronts.

V09N48P06.pdf
Download this file
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2 thoughts on “Letter to The Auroran : burying our town’s website

  1. Ah ha so on page 100 (yes this bloody document is 100 pages) there is a definition of what is meant by Straighten the Town’s ‘Welcome Mat’

    A) Provide relevant economic development specific marketing materials to the
    reception desk on main floor in the Town Hall and place materials in a clearly
    marked area for easy identification and access.

    Yup, sure, the first place I would look for pertinent marketing materials would be at reception in Town Hall, isn’t this just a matter of course?

    B) Ensure that the entry lobby to the Town Hall has large and clearly visible floor
    listings of all departments within the sight lines of visitors entering the
    building.

    What? This is a fire code requirement what does it have to do with marketing?

    C) Ensure that the individual working at entrance reception desk at the Town
    Hall is familiar with all the promotional materials available to the public.

    Again, duh.

    D) Augment the Town’s website with a section promoting economic development
    related upcoming special events and functions.

    Uh huh, wow really excelled there, thanks for straightening the welcome mat
    next time you may want to wipe the poo off it first.

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