RoundRockTexas.gov has been recognized by Juggle as one of the top city government websites in the state of Texas. Below you'll find an interview with Will Hampton, Communications Director for the City of Round Rock.
- RoundRockTexas.gov is a top-notch web portal; what has been your role in its development?
As the City’s Communications Director, I lead the team responsible for the development and maintenance of the site.
- Can you summarize the history of Round Rock’s city website?
The City, after a competitive process, selected Vision Internet to design our site in 2005. Our previous sites had been designed in house. We also purchased a content management system from Vision, so non-technical staff can update the site.
We have added significant features to the site since 2006, including: online service requests; video replays of City Council and other board and commission meetings; online payment of utility bills; and online open records requests, to name a few.
Our site has won state and/or national awards every year since its launch in 2006.
- What are the overarching objectives of Round Rock’s current e-government initiatives?
We want to make easy for citizens and others to interact with the City 24/7, whether it be signing up for parks and recreation programs or commenting on a blog post about a City Council proposal.
- In developing RoundRockTexas.gov, what were the biggest hurdles that needed to be overcome?
Initially, the biggest hurdle was to suppress the urge of some departments to want to “customize” their pages, which would have reduced the site’s overall design and navigation consistency. Fortunately, the overall economy was in good shape in 2005 so securing funding for the site was not a problem!
- How has citizen feedback influenced the development of Round Rock’s e-government services?
Before we issued a Request For Proposals for the site development, we surveyed our existing website users to get their input on features and design styles. Many of their preferences were included in the RFP, including a Community Calendar.
- How do you see your web portal growing or changing in the next 2-3 years? Are there any exciting new features or services in the works?
We just launched the second version of our mobile website, and anticipate additional improvements for the mobile platform over the next 2-3 years as smartphones and iPads become more popular and powerful. We are looking into location-based features and augmented reality applications if the public starts to use those applications.
- In what ways has social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) allowed you to connect more directly and personally with the citizens of Round Rock?
The City launched a blog site, Community Conversations, four years ago, and added Twitter and Facebook accounts nearly two years ago. The blog, and to a lesser extent Facebook and Twitter, allow citizens to comment on projects and programs and offer suggestions for improving city services. We also have a Flickr group that features hundreds of high-quality photographs taken by residents and others that helps build a sense of community.
- Your City Focus online video magazine is a very innovative resource; how many people are utilizing the service and what kinds of different things are featured in these segments?
We get approximately 500 views online of each episode of that program, which also runs on our government access channel. We feature a wide variety of city activities in the program, ranging from long-range planning efforts to water conservation tips.