The city of College Park is set to launch a new website with a refurbished design in the coming weeks, according to the city’s communications and events manager Ryna Quinones.

The city’s main website launched in 2019 and became eligible for a reworked design in 2023, according to the city’s contract with government-focused tech company CivicPlus.

Some additions to the new website include a “How Do I” section to help users better navigate the site, an improved council and staff directory, updated and higher-quality College Park guides and maps and a dedicated language translation button.

Quinones, who presented the new website to the College Park City Council at a March 12 meeting, emphasized that feedback from residents was taken into account.

“We had a lot of feedback over the years,” Quinones said at the meeting. “We wanted to make sure we made a site that definitely addressed some of the feedback we received.”

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Before presenting the new website to the council, city staff conducted focus groups with College Park Senior Advisory Committee members, city staff across departments and University of Maryland students to directly solicit feedback on the website’s navigation, design and user experience.

Quinones said the focus groups were a valuable contribution. They directed the city to the areas where the website could be improved, she said at the March 12 council meeting.

District 2 council member Llatetra Brown Esters said she felt the new website reflected the College Park population’s diversity well.

“It’s very vibrant, I love the movement,” Esters said at the March 12 meeting. “The diversity that we are [is] what I see in what you shared.”

Esters and fellow council members raised concerns about the agendas for city council meetings and other city boards and commissions still only available in PDF format rather than HTML.

Esters said the website’s use of PDFs makes important documents inaccessible to some residents, which she would like the city to take into account.

District 1 council member Jacob Hernandez was enthusiastic about the website’s translation feature. Hernandez said the translation service was quick with no delay.

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Although deputy student liaison Gannon Sprinkle said he felt students would appreciate the updated website, he believes it should also incorporate the information about this university’s city council student liaisons.

Government and politics professor Michael Hanmer — who also serves as this university’s Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement’s director — said newer technology could help the city get younger residents, like college students, more actively involved in local government.

Hanmer said the College Park Connect app was a good first step in this regard and credited it as “an idea that makes a lot of sense” in reaching students at this university.

Hanmer added that technology is more critical to engaging with the younger population than other less digital aspects.

“[Young people are] not going to show up to a town hall meeting,” Hanmer said. “Trying to think about tools that can make it easier for people to provide input is a good strategy for encouraging the public to get involved.”