Fayetteville Uses Brainstorming, Teamwork to Overhaul City Website (Technology Advancements | Honorable Mention, 20,000+)

The city of Fayetteville has been recognized in recent years for its local government website. In 2013, Fayetteville was ranked No. 2 on the Center for Digital Government list of top city government websites for cities fewer than 75,000 people. That’s up from No. 7 in 2011.

Plus, twice over the last three years, Fayetteville received a Juggle Award from Juggle.com for having one of the country’s top local government sites.

All that recognition was earned despite operating with an outdated and limited content management system (CMS).

Lindsley Smith, communications director for the city, said most city governments can’t afford to invest in a state-of-the-art CMS.

“Cities must instead rely on staff brain power for website improvements or overhauls,” she said. She called it “applied technology innovation.”

Fayetteville applied some of it to make its city government site — AccessFayetteville.org — one of the best in the country, and those efforts earned it recognition as a 2013 Arkansas Business City of Distinction in the technology advancements category.

The city determined in 2010 to purchase a new CMS but ran smack dab into the recession. Current budget plans call for a new CMS in 2014. But in the meantime, the city will continue to apply that old fashioned innovation through brain power.

“Essentially, it requires creative thinking and budgeting of staff time in a way that city employees work as a team to maintain a strong website despite its limitations until a more functional system can be acquired,” Smith said.

In 2010, the city began making internal improvements where it could and ended up with an award-winning site.

“A key to this success was our listening to the public and to their desires for what information they needed and the format in which they wished to have it,” said Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan.

Before the 2010 internal overhaul, the Fayetteville site offered basic information and minimal visual elements. Now, it features social media components, more detailed information, better navigation, a YouTube section for public service announcements, in-house videos and more.

The key, Jordan said, is doing the most with what you have and being creative.

“Lack of funding for such an upgrade was an obstacle overcome by imagination, ingenuity and hard work from dedicated staff members,” he said.