The city of Berkeley is on a mission to improve its website, as well as to determine if there are more services it can offer online.

The city’s website currently lists names of city officials, has information about a host of issues from affordable housing to birth and death certificates to how to drive to Berkeley. The website also has City Council agendas, planning documents, and the amount of money various political candidates have raised in their campaigns, and much more.

But Berkeley believes it can offer a friendlier design and is asking for residents’ help. The city wants people to complete a survey by Jan. 15 on what they like and don’t like about the website.

The answers will not only help Berkeley make information more accessible, but may lead to a shift in the way the city delivers services, according to Matthai Chakko, city spokesman.

“We want to be sure: Are there services that people would like to just have online and not have to come into the city for?” Chakko told Berkeleyside. “Are there processes that could be resolved? Are things just not clear?”

“When we’re making our website better, part of what happens is we can also make our processes better and we can streamline how we deliver services,” he said. “Are there opportunities for us to simplify things? We want to make it easier for people to get services from the city. That’s really a huge focus for us.”

After collecting the surveys, Berkeley plans to hold two community meetings to drill deeper into what works on the website and what doesn’t work. The first meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the North Branch, Berkeley Public Library, 1170 The Alameda. The second meeting is Thursday, Jan. 19, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch Library, 1901 Russell St.

“We’ll be looking to dig further into that feedback, get more input and look at solutions at our two community workshops,” according to a press release. “We’ll discuss design (the look and feel of the site), the content and the online services we deliver. City staff and a consultant will:

  • Identify challenges with the current City website
  • Identify consequences of website challenges, e.g., quantitative and qualitative impacts
  • Identify community-driven solutions for solving existing challenges
  • Identify benefits of implementing suggested solutions to the Berkeley community

The City website should reflect the community’s needs. Your participation can help!”

Berkeley also intends to talk to city staff to get their thoughts about the website, said Chakko. Berkeley hopes to put the creation of the new site out to bid by the end of the summer and get online by the end of the year. Berkeley is also set to hire someone to oversee and help envision the site, said Chakko, which is a new role for the city.

Take the survey.

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...