Do You Have a “Piggy Back” Site?

For many municipalities, having one town website seems to make sense.

You can have everything pertaining to the town in one area, including information for town residents and out-of-town visitors alike.

But while having everything on one website may sound like a good idea, the fact is that this approach it’s not usually the best option. Combining chamber and municipal websites can result in a disorganized –and haphazard layout. Not to mention it makes it more difficult to do updates and changes, and harder for visitors to find relevant information.

While it might be cheaper to have a piggy back site in the beginning, it usually doesn’t work out very well.

If you’re thinking of “piggy backing” one of your websites onto another one that’s already rolling, here’s why you may want to reconsider.

Two Audiences, One Website

Chamber and municipal websites are two completely different sites. They have different audiences and offer very different information.

  • Chamber Websites – A chamber website is designed to attract business or commerce for the town. The audience usually consists primarily of out-of-town visitors who may be thinking of visiting the town, or perhaps considering moving there. The visitors are usually looking for information about the town, and local businesses. Chamber websites are also designed with a focus on marketing, and built to promote the town, the sights, and local businesses to potential visitors.
  • Municipal Websites – A municipal website, on the other hand, is made for the town clerk, and the local town residents. This website is designed to provide residents with information that’s relevant to them. It’s also designed to increase transparency –and allows the clerk to provide relevant information on official town business. Things that are found on a municipal website include budget information, a calendar, meeting minutes, news, ordinances, and voting information. There may even be forms and permits, or a place to pay fees or taxes.

As you can see, these websites are designed for two very different purposes. Tourists who are trying to find information on the town, and residents who are looking for voting information or permits are two very different audiences.

Take for example this website.

This village site has a section of pages within the chamber’s website, yet they have two separate goals and audiences. Trying to combine the two websites isn’t the best idea. It will be limiting, and since it makes the information more difficult to find, it will also have a detrimental effect on the visitors’ experience.

Another issue with piggybacking is issues when it comes to updating the site. With a piggy back website, it would be difficult to add new menus or change the layout and design features. You would also be largely limited regarding the content that you can post. If you would like to add additional content that doesn’t fit with the existing menu or page you would probably have to hire someone to do it for you.

Benefits of Having Separate Sites

Having two websites offers a number of benefits.

To start, when you keep your websites separate, you’ll be able to keep the information separate as well, which allows you to customize the layouts more, to better cater to visitors’ needs. For instance, for your chamber website, you can allow subscribers to access a calendar that has dates specific for town meetings and business. They’ll also be able to find relevant information more easily. Likewise, out-of-town visitors will be able to find maps, information on local businesses, and information on local accommodations, without having to weed through the town meetings, minutes, and permits.

When you have two websites, it will also be easier to arrange information, and make updates and changes when needed.

In short, keeping your chamber and municipal sites separate will allow you to provide the right information to the right people. It will make it easy for you to market your website to the right audience, and your town residents, as well as out-of-town visitors, will be happier as well.

Are you looking for a new website for your town? If you would like a municipal or chamber website, at Town Web Design, we would be happy to help. Contact us today to learn more!

Image: Nicolas Henderson

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