Brandon builds handy features into city website

By: 
Staff report
Brandon residents can report a pothole, pay a utility bill and find information faster since the city upgraded its website at cityofbrandon.org. 

From snow alerts to city council agendas, finding Brandon-related information just got easier on the city’s recently revamped website.
Finance officer Christina Smith oversaw the project, which went live Jan. 22.
“It’s been at least four-and-a-half years since we upgraded the website, which is the main reason for the change,” Smith said.
The city’s website host offered new layouts and features City Hall wanted to take advantage of, she said. A rotating filmstrip of top-requested information, a sliding carousel of reports and sign-up options and a notification bar along the top of the home page not only make the website more visual and dynamic, but also easier and faster to navigate. 
The website also features a few new tools that Smith and city staffers are excited about. One is the “Report a Concern” feature, which allows Brandon residents to share news of a pothole, code violation or nuisance or street light outages without calling City Hall. That’s a first, Smith said. 
Residents can also select whether or not they’d like a follow-up call or email regarding the concern. 
The top notification bar is new and will be used to alert site visitors to emergencies like snow alerts, water main breaks and changes in lawn watering stages. 
“Hopefully the navigation is more user-friendly,” Smith said. “There were so many drop-downs and arrows over, so we tried to clean it up.”
The rotating film strip – a horizontal series of icons identifying popular sections like “Council Agendas & Minutes,” “Ordinances,” and “New Residents,” get users to the information they’re seeking in fewer clicks. Brandon water and sewer customers can click there to pay utility bills online, too. 
“We’re just trying to make it easier for citizens to use,” said city administrator Bryan Read.
In addition to “Report a Concern,” the sliding carousel under film strip includes a link to capital improvement projects, which city engineer Tami Jansma will update regularly. It currently has info on the Holly Boulevard/Main Avenue project coming forth this summer. 
“As projects get more hectic this summer, this is going to be the place to go for up-to-date information,” Smith said. 
The final new touch is the live Facebook feed to the city of Brandon’s page. 
To visit the city of Brandon virtually, go to cityofbrandon.org.

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