New face for Ponoka’s online presence

The official online presence for Ponoka has gone through a digital facelift; although facelift might be a conservative word

The official online presence for Ponoka has gone through a digital facelift; although facelift might be a conservative word as it is a complete change over what represented.

Town councillors had an exclusive look at the site before its official launch Aug. 14 at a regular council meeting.

Tadd Cameron, manager of technology services, said the project has been in the works for some time now. He feels it is “a much better face” for Ponoka.

It also gives staff a chance to add items to their area as well as manage documents right in the site. The main banner is available on most pages so visitors have access to specific links and the more a person visits, popular pages can be seen.

One of the developers of Yellow Pencil, the company contracted to update the site, Carson Pierce, took some time to explain some of its features.

“There’s two really big factors that make this worth talking about,” said Pierce.

The first comes in the form of an open source platform called Joomla. A short explanation of open source is that coding is freely available to developers; this can make it easier to receive new features as someone might have developed it on their own using the open source coding.

Features such as the calendar and business directory can be easier to put together as someone might already have developed something similar.

“In the past, redesigning the site usually required a rebuild, but this one has a template to it so you can add templates fairly quick,” he explained.

The second feature Pierce spoke about is the site’s responsiveness to different screen sizes. A user with an iPhone would have a different looking page than someone with a laptop or even a tablet.

“It doesn’t just adjust the layout, it adjusts the behavior of the site… It’s one of the first municipal websites that we know of that is responsive,” explained Pierce.

Some content on the site might not be available yet as features need to update on the Internet. “We’ll be adding more and more content as it rolls in.”

Key features include a contact form available anywhere on the site, people can submit their comments and direct it to the appropriate department or they can leave a general message if they so desire.

The $19,600 project is something CAO Brad Watson was excited to show council.

“What a relief and yahoo to make this go live,” he stated.

He also gave credit to Melodie Delong, who works in the town office, and economic development officer Sarah Olson for their assistance with the project.

Originally proposed to be released sometime in March, there were a few factors that delayed the launch, explained Pierce. Some had to do with Pierce’s company being bought out by another as well as being one of the first municipal websites to have screen size responsiveness.

It made things “tricky” for developers. “We prioritized quality over the timeline.”

He credits Cameron for his dedication to the project.

“Tadd put a ton of time into this, he was the driving force behind this,” stated Pierce.

A consideration when building the site was the content, explained Cameron. Municipalities are known to have quite a bit of information, and categorizing the information took some time to put together.

A photo gallery is on the website and as more people submit pictures of Ponoka it will be updated.