Dick Gross Mayor CoPP

Port Phillip Council’s digital heart is being redesigned and reimagined to make it easier to find and understand information, request services and complete transactions on its websites.

Under a ten-year $2.8 million contract awarded to Victorian digital agency VERSA (formerly named Deepend Melbourne), customers and visitors to Council websites will notice a far more personalised and up-to-date digital experience.

Mayor Dick Gross said the project, a key component of Council’s wider Customer Experience Program, went far beyond a simple website makeover.

“The current, clunky system is well and truly past its use-by date. The ageing technology is not meeting the growing demand and expectations from people accessing our websites for everything from requesting services to applying for permits,” Cr Gross said today.

“Our community is telling us they want and need more, particularly those members wanting to complete their business quickly without having to make a follow-up phone call or trek down to the Town Hall.”

A survey earlier this year of 245 customers using Council’s main website found 53 per cent reported not finding what they were searching for, needed more information or were told to call Council to conclude their transaction.

The new system will include forms which are simpler to understand and fill out and easier tracking of nextsteps and outcomes of permit applications.

It will also overcome the website’s struggle to accommodate customers seeking information via smartphones. When the most recent update was undertaken in 2009, the number of customers accessing thewebsite with devices was negligible. Now, smart phones account for 50 per cent of visits.

The website redesign is being complemented by refreshed content to make information more customerfriendl and easier to understand and navigate. The project is scheduled to start in August and improvements will gradually be implemented over the next year and a half, with completion expected byJanuary 2021.

Background

A $2.4 million contract with VERSA has been awarded for the provision, implementation, ongoing maintenance and support of the website technology over seven years, with an option to extend the contract for another three years for $415,800 (at Council’s discretion).

The contract also covers intranet redesign,ongoing design support and upgrades.
The selection of VERSA, which has a successful track record of working with local government and was determined to offer the best value for money, followed an open tender and rigorous evaluation process.

Council currently operates about a dozen websites, based on five different systems. The new technology means just one system, which does not involve licence fees, will be required. Productivity savings are also expected.