The city of Marysville will debut a virtual gateway to the community this week with the March 26 launce of a new city website,

The city of Marysville will debut a virtual gateway to the community this week with the March 26 launce of a new city website,

Scott Brock, the city's information technology manager, said the new website completes a plan that started a few years ago.

"We sent out a survey to the residents in 2009 asking them what they wanted to see in a website," he said. "We took those results and added them to the laundry list of ideas that we were generating to make sure whatever website we come up with meets what the residents wanted.

"We put together a project team and began researching," he said. "We found more than probably any of us thought we would know about city websites best practices and public sector websites."

The IT committee identified different companies that would be able to work with the city to create a new website.

"We chose CivicPlus, which is a government-specific design firm," he said. "They have offices all over the country. We've been working with the office out of Chicago. There are several other Ohio cities that have utilized CivicPlus, including Worthington and Grove City."

The contract for CivicPlus is what City Administrator Terry Emery called a reasonable price: The total cost to create the new website is $19,019.

After the first year, Marysville will be charged $3,150 a year, which will include annual maintenance, hosting the site, associated data, daily backups and continued feature updates.

Brock said CivicPlus will serve the city for quite a while.

"They've developed almost 1,000 government websites," he said. "They have that many clients that are constantly giving them feedback and when they develop things, we'll be able to get that."

In the survey, residents said they wanted a website with a better search function and a staff directory that was easy to navigate.

The website includes large graphic buttons on the home page that transfer to any page a visitor clicks on. One main feature is the "How do I " feature, where residents can click to find out how to do a number of things, such as how to pay a utility bill.

Gwen Beech, the city's information manager, users can also sign up for the "Notify Me" function.

"It is great for citizens because any time we make a change to any of our modules, like the employment section or police news, people who have subscribed are notified via email or text message," she said.

"Instead of residents coming back to check, it's the city giving citizens delivered content," Brock said. "So if you're interested in jobs with the city, then you can sign up for the job section and any time there's a job posting, you'll get an email or a text."

Users can also create their own profiles so whenever they sign in, their own dashboard shows up.

Brock is particularly proud of the search function on the website.

"The search functionality on this website is really good," he said. "In some of our research in trying to come up with ideas for a website, it became prevalent that people are more familiar with search engines. So we wanted our search bar to be prevalent and big and it works very well."

Emery said the website not only serves the citizens of Marysville better but businesses that may want to come to Marysville will get a better impression of the city.

Brock said the website will continue to evolve.

"This is not a basic website by any means," he said. "But there are things we're going to roll out as quarters go by, like how the website will tie with social media. That will be rolling out later this year."