ARC relaunches website

Auckland Regional Council relaunches its website today with a locally-developed content management system to help it and users cope with more than 1000 pages of content.

Auckland Regional Council relaunches its website today with a locally-developed content management (CM) system to help it and users cope with more than 1000 pages of content.

The website uses a customised and shrink-wrapped package called Shadow, developed by city-based web development and software company Straker Interactive in association with Unisys.

The relaunch forms part of a major ARC campaign, also launched today, called “Big Clean Up,” which will use the site.

ARC CIO Tony Darby says historically CM packages were very expensive and difficult to manage.

But the council adopted Shadow “because of its ease of use and the ability to get it up and running very fast.”

“Shadow might not have the flash functions and features of other high-end CM systems, but it’s affordable,” Darby says.

Work started on the new site in February and by last week, the existing website had been redeveloped and the content transferred over. The old site was also taken down for a few days last week for ‘cleaning” prior to today’s launch.

Darby explains Shadow will sit behind the website, manage its webpages, links, give it structure and give council staff responsibility for developing the content.

“We have a diverse organisation so it’s totally unfeasible to set up a group of people to manage the site. There will be 40 people across various departments doing this,” he says.

Darby says the main impact of the new site for users will be more online services like consent registration and more and tighter links to other council information.

For staff, the main difference will be individual departments being responsible for updating their own data.

AIM Proximity was contracted by the ARC to do the work, using Straker as sub-contractor.

“We provided the strategic input, how the council should lay it out, what they should display, how they should go about extending the website. We also did site design, including the navigator,” says director Clint Bratton.

This includes having the search engine on the front page, and designing the site “with users in mind” so the “intuitive” content does not reflect council departments, Bratton says.

Straker Interactive MD Grant Straker describes the website as a “great thing”, considering its content, accessibility and the different council staff gaining the permission to edit it, thus keeping the site up to date.

Built-in reporting functionality also allows the retrieval of meta data outlining the path taken by users. A caching engine also speeds up the rendering of webpages, he says.

Shadow is written in Cold Fusion and runs on SQL2000 on a WIN2K Server. It is also used by Fisher & Paykel, Unitech and Turners & Growers, Straker says.

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