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We google everything these days, because a good search engine saves time and usually knows exactly what we want.

That’s the rationale for the simple, stripped-back look of Hamilton City Council’s new website.

The new site has been redesigned from the ground up for a vastly improved user experience, centred around a smart new search function.

Council’s Strategy and Communication General Manager Sean Hickey said websites are critical tools for requesting services, sharing information, and engaging with the community. “But the old site was out of date and no longer met the needs of a growing city with a youthful population.”

He said the new site has been in development since early 2020, with a huge amount of time and testing feeding into the design. “We’ve done our homework, incorporating user feedback and extensive market research to really understand what our users expect, while balancing the need for an agile site that can accommodate future updates.”

Making the user experience even better is the suite of redesigned application forms. “These new digital forms have a more logical flow and show you your progress as sections are complete,” said Hickey. “We’ll be introducing more of these in time.”

Finding and booking the right sports ground or community venue for your next event has been made a lot easier too, thanks to redesigned pages that allow you to filter by what facilities are available at each place. “We’re keen for more Hamiltonians to make use of our community spaces,” said Hickey.

Two of the most viewed Council pages, the property search and cemetery search databases, have both been upgraded, as well as the site’s overall security. Accessibility has also been carefully considered in the design, incorporating advice from the NZ Accessibility Standards.

Customer, Technology and Transformation General Manager Murray Heke said the new site might surprise first-time users.

“It’s a bold new look, with fresh colours and completely redesigned layout. Many of the confusing navigation menus are gone, replaced with a search box that actually works.”

Heke said the new search function is key to getting the best experience from the website. “It’s more intuitive, even picking up on spelling errors, synonyms and related words. And over time, as we gather data on commonly searched terms, the search results will improve.”

“We actually want people to spend less time on our site; our goal is to make things easier to find, apply for, and pay, so you can get on with your day.”

Integration with other Council systems has also been a major driver for the new website. “Better integration means we will see a reduction in the time staff spend doing manual tasks while processing online payments and applications,” said Heke.

Following a thorough tender process, Council contracted local digital company Dynamo6 to help with the design and build phase. “We're proud to be able to use a Hamilton-based supplier and support our local economy with this project,” said Heke.

“The build cost for the website came in under budget at $901,000, which represents excellent value for our residents,” said Heke, “especially when compared to similar size website builds.

“The ongoing maintenance of this new platform actually provides us a cost savings when compared to maintaining the old website. Longer term, there are further savings to be had by combining many of our other sites onto a common platform.”

Residents are encouraged to visit the new website and give it a try. “Like any major technology change, we can’t promise perfection from day one. But we’re confident that once people get used to the new layout, they will have a much better experience. And over time this will only get better,” said Heke.

Visit the new site at hamilton.govt.nz or watch our launch video. Customer Services staff will be available to assist any first-time website users who need help finding information – call 07 838 6699.

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