6-month project

The new Morehead City website, a six-month project, went live Oct. 31. (Elise Clouser screenshot)

MOREHEAD CITY — The city recently launched a newly-designed website, a project six months in the making that helps further the city’s broad goal of improving communication with residents, visitors and business owners in Morehead City.

Officials worked with CivicPlus, a technology company that specializes in designing websites for local governments, to develop the new site. It can be found at the same web address as before, moreheadcitync.org, but the website has a totally updated look and includes several new features to make it more helpful and user-friendly.

Morehead City Communications Manager Alizé Proisy led the website redesign project and has worked closely with CivicPlus over the past few months. She said the new website officially went live Oct. 31, but she waited to make an announcement about the changes until some initial kinks were worked out.

Overall, Ms. Proisy said the new website is easier to navigate than before and includes a few new features residents and visitors may find useful.

“We think it looks really good, and we hope it’s easier for people to navigate,” Ms. Proisy said. “…The goal was to try and make it as user-friendly as possible, so we kept it very straightforward.”

Near the top of the website’s home page are several tabs containing a drop-down menu with links to information about and for government, services, residents, visitors and business. A tab labeled “How do I…” includes links to other useful services, like a contact form and applications for boards and commissions.

Other prominent tabs connect users to information about paying bills, receiving emergency notifications, trash and recycling pickup and parks and recreation.

One new feature the website boasts is the option to sign up for emergency notifications sent directly to a person’s email or cellphone. A button on the home page labeled “Notify Me” takes users to a form where they can enter an email address and phone number to sign up for any of three notification types, including emergency alerts, important alerts and weather alerts. Users can pick and choose which alerts they want to receive and how they want to receive them.

Ms. Proisy said the city got to test out its new notification system Wednesday when an abandoned home on Bay Street near 14th Street caught fire. She said the city sent out an alert warning people to avoid the area while crews worked on the blaze, and the system seemed to work well.

Other features include a calendar of events, including council and board meetings, closings and special happenings. The website also integrates the city’s various social media feeds and has links to follow Morehead City on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Eventually, Ms. Proisy said the website will also include a place for residents to report problems that need the city’s attention, such as potholes or street lighting outages. She said that link will be featured prominently on the website’s home page so it’s easy to find and issues can be addressed quickly.

Another feature still in development is the ability for residents to pay bills online. Currently, Morehead City residents can pay utility bills online through a third-party company, but the company charges a $3 service fee for each transaction. The new online bill pay portal will be integrated into the city’s website and will not require a service fee, but Ms. Proisy said that feature is still about six months away from rollout.    

As for the website’s new look, it is a more modern design that incorporates Morehead City’s new logo, which was unveiled earlier this year. It also features photography of the city’s scenic waterfront and other notable sights by local photographer Marc Montocchio.

Ms. Proisy said although the website has gone live, it is a constant work in progress and will probably undergo minor tweaks as it is optimized for users: Morehead City residents. She encourages feedback on the new website, and said so far people seem to like the redesign.

The new website was part of a larger push by Morehead City Manager Ryan Eggleston to improve communications between the city and its residents. Ms. Proisy was hired earlier this year as the city’s first-ever communications manager, and she has undertaken several projects to further the city’s goals. Now that the website has launched, she said her next big project is to create a quarterly newsletter that will go out to residents.

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

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