Rehoboth set to roll out new website

Frustrated customers ask for overhaul
April 4, 2014
Rehoboth Beach officials are gearing up to launch a new and improved city website within the next five months. The site will be easier to navigate and maintain. BY CITY OF REHOBOTH BEACH

Rehoboth Beach officials expect to roll out a new website before Labor Day.

Commissioner Stan Mills, chairman of the Communications Committee, said the redesign is expected to be ready within the next five months.

The nearly five-year-old website was ready for a makeover, he said, in order to make it easier to navigate. Mills said the site was insufficiently maintained and its search capability was nonfunctional.

Rehoboth Information Technology Director Max Hamby said, “We repeatedly hear that it is difficult to find information, and that the navigation menu systems are just confusing. Over the years, as the site has grown; there’s been a general lack of architecture to the information, which has resulted in a less-than-cohesive presentation. We’ve ended up with a website that is essentially a bunch of links to PDFs.”

Mills also called for providing new content: information on weddings, bicycling routes, more maps and information on the convention center such as how to rent, configuration of rooms, fees and rules.

“With the amount of changes desired by the committee, this project transformed from a simple facelift to a major overhaul,” he said.

Hamby said the website has remained relatively untouched since its debut in 2007, and it lacks features now common in web design, such as social media integration, news and events and mapping integration.

Overseeing the overhaul is Rehoboth’s IT department, working with Georgetown-based web designer Inclind.

The new site is being built on a mature open-source platform called Drupal, which has most notably been used by, Hamby said. The platform is well-tested and can be easily updated, he said, with a simplified administrative interface allowing supervisory staff to make relevant changes. At this time, Hamby said online bill paying will not be available right away, but could be added in the future.

The city’s contact for the site design and development of the platform was $17,500, Hamby said.

To help maintain the site, the city commissioners budgeted $20,000 in the 2014-15 budget to hire a part-time web manager, who Mills said would ensure the content of the site is kept current, as well as help assist city secretary Ann Womack.