you don’t always get what you pay for

According to this Error Banner article from last November the Town of Aurora will be rolling out a new website in just over a month:
http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4196735-new-aurora-website-to-launch-in-march

This is one initiative that is long overdue, as I commented on it back in 2009 here:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/letter-to-the-auroran-burying-our-towns-website/

The Town of Aurora’s website is alarmingly outdated and restrictive. I commented on the impact it has in this post here: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/a-website-yeah-we-got-one-of-those/

The new website, listed under capital projects in report #CAO13-025 is listed as under budget but not complete. The budget it references is the $90,000 allocation for a “Content Management System” allocated in 2011.
I commented on that here: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/fuss-budget/

That was 2011, why has it taken 3 years to achieve this site redesign?

In the private sector such a timeline would be inconceivable.

For sake of comparison let’s review some sites that were accomplished over those 3 years.

Launched in 2012 Gov.uk received Design of the Year for 2013 guided by 10 design principles: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2013/apr/16/government-website-design-of-year

In October of 2013 New York City’s website underwent a overhaul, you can read more here:
http://www.creativebloq.com/netmag/how-new-york-city-redesigned-its-website-10134721

Closer to home Toronto’s online resources are some of the best in the world according to The Rutgers e-governance survey. A global survey of municipal government websites ranked Toronto second out of 92 cities, trailing only Seoul, South Korea:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/survey-places-torontos-online-resources-among-the-best-in-the-world/article7825710/

Back in November Hamilton gave a sneak peak of its website design concepts:
http://www.linxsmart.com/blogs/view/city-of-hamilton-s-website-design-concepts-revealed

Even York Region updated its website late last year:
http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4224732-york-region-unveils-redesigned-website/

So what is Aurora capable of?

Back in 2010 I summarized the countless dollars thrown at the town’s website to that point in time:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/what-does-half-a-million-dollars-buy/

I touched on the staff costs reflected in the Corporate Communications Division Staff Complement for the Town of Aurora as:

Manager of Corporate Communications
Marketing & Special Events Coordinator
Communications Specialist
Web Services Specialist

That’s right. Since 2009 The Town employs a Web specialist, at a cost of $80,000/yr.

Fast forward 5 years @ $80,000 the Town has paid out $400,000 in this position alone.

Which is why it is hard to understand how basic maintenance of the town’s website cannot be accomplished by the Town’s communication department when called upon, and instead plays out like this Dilbert strip:

I commented on in this in greater detail in this post here:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/if-no-mistake-have-you-made-yet-losing-you-are-a-different-game-you-should-play/

The whole hands off approach to facilitating a web presence for the Town’s 150th Anniversary is worthy of some further scrutiny.

Back in late 2012 when the Sesquicentennial ad-hoc comittee was pressing to make up for lost time the committee received a proposal from a local business to build out a web presence for the 150 for free.

You can see that proposal, included in the agenda of the Thursday, October 11th 2012 meeting here: http://www.aurora.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=60525

On two separate occasions that I was present for the Communications Manager advised the committee against proceeding with this proposal and dismissed it as being nothing more than a blog platform, which it wasn’t.

Interestingly enough the committee picked a Kitchener-based web hosting/creative design company ( http://machteldfaasxander.com ) to build out the aurora150.ca site using the exact same WordPress platform.

The cost for the site was approximately $11,200.

So to re-cap, instead of using a local business for free, the committee chose to flush over $11,000 to a Kitchener based outfit.

WTF?

Last November Google presented the Town of Newmarket with an eTown award in recognition of community members leveraging opportunities on the Internet and investing in online resources to grow their businesses and connect with customers. You can read more in this Error Banner piece here: http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4223489-google-canada-honours-newmarket-businesses/

Here in Aurora the Town’s communication department seems content in using our tax money to invest in out of town businesses to deliver what we already pay dearly for, all the while discouraging local businesses and citizen engagement.

To say we have hit a pay wall is an understatement.

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2 thoughts on “you don’t always get what you pay for

    1. Barry,

      Thanks for the heads up on both of these.

      From what I see both Banff and Louisville are very deserving of their awards. Lousiville finished in the top four every year since 2006 including two consecutive second place finishes in 2010 and 2011,

      Perhaps if Aurora had a Manager of Communications of the caliber of a Diana Waltmann, or Beth Niblock it wouldn’t be so woefully out of its depth and costing us over half a million dollars a year for little to show for it.

      I shudder to think what “apps” are being developed to coincide with this launch.

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