September 12, 2017

For Your Municipal Government Website: A Walk Through TownWeb's All New Dashboard

Our all new dashboard is a major improvement over the original, and municipal web administrators in hundreds of municipalities across the country are enjoying how it has simplified the job of maintaining their municipal government websites.

Our all new dashboard is a major improvement over the original, and municipal web administrators in hundreds of municipalities across the country are enjoying how it has simplified the job of maintaining their municipal government websites.We introduced the new dashboard back last year just after Thanksgiving, in an article that shared the backstory of how our customer opinion research brought it into being. Today we're going to walk you through how it works, step by step - and how the new dashboard improves the user experience.

The Seven Essential Areas of  a  Municipal Government Website

A good dashboard must avoid clutter. TownWeb's new dashboard gives you instant access to everything you need 99% of the time, while eliminating a large percentage of rarely or never used controls. To that end, we identified these seven essential areas for our municipal government website administrators:

  1. Meeting Minutes and Agendas
  2. News and Notices
  3. Events and Meetings
  4. Editing Pages
  5. Website Traffic Reports
  6. System Notifications
  7. Contacting Support

Even a newbie website admin can use the new dashboard to accomplish routine site updates - in seconds. Let's take a tour and see how these seven areas look, work, and simplify your workload compared with the original interface.

Getting To the New TownWeb Dashboard

Opening the new TownWeb dashboard is a simple matter, but we don't want you to miss it, so here are the steps:

  1. Open your usual admin page link and log in
  2. Click the "New Dashboard" link at upper left

This will open a new window with a row of five tabbed links near the top. The "Dashboard" link always takes you back to this view. Think about the new dashboard as your own personal admin website, where "Dashboard" is the Home button!

Don't See the New Dashboard link yet in your admin area?

Don't panic. This just means your website needs an upgrade to the latest version, and we'll be happy to help with that. TownWeb upgrades are now faster and more affordable than ever. Please click here to get started.

Updating Municipal Meeting Minutes and Agendas

The new dashboard requires only six basic actions to add a new meeting agenda:

  1. Click the Cloud icon for Minutes and Agendas
  2. Type the meeting title
  3. Upload the meeting agenda as pdf
  4. Select the category
  5. Add notes to describe the meeting
  6. Click "Save to meeting repository"

How the New Dashboard Simplifies Meetings and Agendas

In the original interface, adding a new meeting agenda required between eight and ten steps:

  1. Mouse to TWD Meeting Repository in the black vertical menu strip and hover
  2. Mouse over to the Add New option
  3. Click on Add New
  4. Type the meeting title
  5. Select the meeting date
  6. Upload the meeting agenda as pdf
  7. Select the category from existing choices or add a new option
  8. Perhaps add notes or additional media
  9. Likely ignore the Custom Fields section
  10. Save Draft or Publish

Fewer steps make your government website updates faster and more enjoyable. We also added a meetings report front and center, so following up after a municipal meeting is now simpler than ever.The dashboard's new Meeting Repository window shows you all recent meetings in a grid, identifying which have minutes, agendas or agenda packets, and providing quick links to add any missing documents. We even push alerts to you in the main dashboard window about any meetings that are missing an agenda or minutes - more on that later in this article.In sum, the new follow-up procedure for completed meetings streamlines a lot of the work you need to do on a regular basis.

Adding or Editing News and Notices

Posting news and public notices is a simple 7 step procedure:

  1. Click on the News/Notices tab
  2. Click "Create News/Notice"
  3. Add Title
  4. Upload an image
  5. Write your post
  6. Choose from the available categories, which include:
  7. Auctions
  8. Digital
  9. News and Notices
  10. Spotlight
  11. Click "Save news/notice" link at bottom right

Adding an Event to Your Municipal Government Website Calendar

Adding events like board meetings or holiday festivals to your municipal website calendar is even easier than before:

  1. Click on the Events tab in the new dashboard
  2. Click "Create Event"
  3. Name the event
  4. Describe the event
  5. Choose the starting date and time, or select "all day"
  6. Choose the ending date and time
  7. Choose the event's category from one of the available options, including:
  8. People
  9. Town Board
  10. If the meeting repeats, choose a recurrence pattern, for example, every second Tuesday Set the last date the event will repeat with the "recurrence stop" field
  11. Click "Save Event"

Editing Pages: 7 Simple Steps to Keeping you Municipal and Government Content Fresh

We have simplified the job of editing pages by bypassing the standard list-style Pages menu, which was way TMI (too much information) for most town clerks. We streamlined the job of making basic updates so it is now a matter of about seven clicks.  Our visual page editor has unlimited possibilities, and we'll publish a detailed tutorial in the near future, but for now, here are the seven steps to edit a page:1. Click the Pages tab in the new dashboard2. Scroll down the list of all your municipal government website pages3. Hover over the page you wish to edit, and at the right, you will see two buttons: "Preview" and "Modify with Page Builder"

4. Click "Modify with Page Builder" and you will see a new browser tab with the Page Builder toolbar open on the right hand side, and the existing page content on the left, in edit-ready mode5. To edit a bit of the existing text or change a photo, roll over that element until it is highlighted in its own blue box, then click inside that box6. Make your text or image changes, then click Save

7. At top right, click the blue "Done" button, select Publish changes, then close that entire tab

To add a new section content type to the existing layout, you'll be doing somewhat more involved work inside the builder, using the basic or advanced modules. That level of editing goes beyond the scope of this article, but look for a thorough how-to article about the TownWeb Page Builder very soon. Or use the new dashboard to contact TownWeb Support. They will be happy to assist you whenever you need to make a significant change to your local government website design.

Website Traffic Reports

A beautiful graph of website visitor traffic is one of the dashboard's nicer additions to your municipal website features set, and it makes checking your stats easier than ever. Here's how:

  1. Click the Dashboard tab
  2. Scroll down to the "Website Visitors" chart and select either "last week" or "last month"

That's it! We can't emphasize strongly enough how simple this is compared to logging into Google Analytics, which can take days to learn.

System Notifications for the Municipal Website Admin

We have added three new sections to the dashboard to bring the most important to-do's and updates to your attention. Use these areas to tick off your tasks and stay aware of what your government home page is displaying right now:1. "Requires Your Attention" section - this shows you at a glance exactly which meetings in the repository are missing agendas - because as we all know, a meeting without a published agenda is not much help to anyone.

2. The "Notifications" area lists all items in the meeting repository that are missing items - and we plan to add other types of helpful notifications in the future

3. "Latest News and Notices" is a scrolling list of all news and notices that are currently displayed on the homepage - this new dashboard item saves you a click into the News/Notices tab if you just want to review that list

Contact TownWeb Support

Contacting your TownWeb Support Team is easier than ever:

  1. Click the Dashboard tab
  2. Choose from these available options at top right:
  3. any time: click the email link and write us a Support email
  4. any time: click a link to view pdf manuals or watch how-to videos in a pop-up window
  5. any time: click the Support Ticket link and fill in the two-step popup form, then click "Create support ticket"
  6. business hours: dial our toll-free phone number - business hours are displayed right here

You're Going to Love the New Dashboard!

The new dashboard not only looks and feels great, it also saves you valuable time by simplifying your work. You'll already have the "New Dashboard" link in your municipal government website admin area if you have recently upgraded to the latest version of TownWeb, up from v4 or earlier, or if your TownWeb site was created since late 2015. If you're not yet with TownWeb, or you are on an earlier version, contact us today to arrange a quote for a new TownWeb site or an upgrade from an older version.

Town Web services are approved for use with ARPA funds!