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East Hampton to unveil sleeker, more user-friendly website

This screen shot showing an image of a

This screen shot showing an image of a farm field, is one of seven different images that will rotate on the home page of the Town of East Hampton's redesigned website. Photo Credit: This screen shot showing an image of a farm field, is one of seven different images that will rotate on the home page of the Town of East Hampton’s redesigned website.

A revamped Town of East Hampton website will launch Tuesday with a sleeker look and options that allow residents to do more transactions online and enable department heads to post information without going through a webmaster.

“The new website is interactive and user-friendly and will allow for better information and communication with the public,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Wednesday, adding that the site needed to be brought into the 21st century.

Also new will be rotating homepage photos taken around East Hampton, including a photograph of a farm and another of the Montauk Point Lighthouse. The picture will change each time the page is refreshed.

Charlene Kagel-Betts, chief auditor for the town, said the site will have a “How do I?” drop down that tells users how to report a complaint about noise at East Hampton Airport, apply for a building permit or do a range of other things.

She said a “notify me” link will allow users to sign up for alerts from the town via email, text or cellphone on such activities as tree trimmings or announcements about information ranging from town board agendas to road closures.

“It’s going to make it much easier for residents to access information and navigate through different pages,” Kagel-Betts said, adding that the current website dates to the early part of the millennium.

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said the town’s old website was “extremely clunky to navigate, with the homepage being a virtual dumping ground of links to Town projects, forms and reports.”

Kagel-Betts said the new site will be more user-friendly and noted the URL is unchanged: ehamptonny.gov

Kagel-Betts said that the website will be phased in over the next three years and that the $60,000 cost will be paid for with funds from the operating budget. A free redesign to keep the site updated will be done by the vendor every five years.

Transactions that could be done on the old website were very limited, Kagel-Betts said. Only as of last Dec. 14 could property tax bills be paid online.

The vendor for the new site is Manhattan, Kansas-based Civic Plus, which has nearly 2,000 government clients worldwide.

Kagel-Betts said members of the town’s IT team as well as Burke-Gonzalez were on the committee that chose the look and functions for the site. She said they used Civic Plus’ Nantucket site as a model because East Hampton has the same New England characteristics as the island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

“It’s the same type of resort and seaside community, so we chose the same kind of feel for our pages and graphics,” Kagel-Betts said.

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