Midland engaging in new website, ends popular online service

Midland will continue to engage with residents online, but with an easier and more streamlined design on its main site by the end of the month.

Subscribers to the town’s Engaging Midland website received an email on December 30 stating that the popular service would be decommissioned within two days and to look forward to a municipal redesign in 2023.

“Engaging Midland site was launched in 2019 as an opportunity to engage with our residents and customers to supplement to our website and social media,” said customer experience officer Angela Grenier in an email exchange with MidlandToday.

“Two of the most popular projects in terms of engagement were the King Street Rejuvenation project and the Playground Replacement project.”

The site offered visually-appealing sections for large and small scale municipal projects, public surveys, and interactive forums; these were web designs which the town was unable to host on the main municipal website. Issues over the 2018 through 2022 council term were explored on the site, including affordable housing, parking, and various bylaws.

Grenier stated that Engaging Midland was popular with many visitors but had limited two-way engagement; more people chose to visit the site as a passive viewer rather than directly interacting through its mechanisms.

Users wanting to actively engage with the municipality through the website were instructed to enter personal information to be used for identification purposes and for receiving alerts. With the decommissioning of the website, Grenier cleared up what would happen with that Engaging Midland user data.

“Subscriber information required only usernames and email addresses and will not be used for any other purposes,” said Grenier, “and will be removed from site/demographics, analytics and Q&A reports extracted. The site information is subject to disposition under our records management program, meaning it will be kept electronically for two years then destroyed.”

Within the decommissioning email of late December, a revised Town of Midland website was announced for late January as a replacement for Engaging Midland, focusing on accessibility, engagement and optimized searching options.

Mayor Bill Gordon shared via email that he was looking forward to the big reveal as a means to continue improvements to online service delivery and communications.

“We are attempting to consolidate and focus communications via one website rather than having content and engagement spread across multiple properties,” said Gordon. “The new website… is re-designed to meet all the needs that were previously being addressed using the other platform and will be far more mobile-friendly and feature robust search capabilities.

“Having a one-window approach has worked well serving walk-in town hall inquiries and service delivery, just as the (customer service through email) approach serves online inquiries.

“Focusing our communications and content delivery on a single website/platform should make it easier for people to find the information they are looking for and to engage with the town,” Gordon noted.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca