Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 37
 
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
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Click, You're There: Princeton Borough Makes a Giant Leap in the Web Age

Matthew Hersh

Princeton Borough is known for a lot of things that readers of this local weekly don't need to have pointed out to them, but a quick Google search, up to this week, provided something less than quality service in outlining Princeton Borough's attractions to people outside of the region.

The municipal Web site, www.princetonboro.org, was well intended, but was relatively clumsy and slow, sort of a car phone compared to today's sleek iPhone.

So this week, after about two years of floating the idea around, and only three months of serious planning, princetonboro.org will be transformed into a colorful, interactive, municipal Web site where residents can not only find information and download documents concerning them, but can also find links to the Borough's and the region's in-town amenities.

"Our new Web site will offer unlimited electronic access, with simple and expert searches," said Borough clerk Lea Quinty, whose office spearheaded the Web project. "Our residents can save time with just a click."

Town Topics was granted a preview of the new site, which was expected to be launched either today or no later than the end of the week. The site displays a sleeker, slightly urban feel, and outlines information like meeting agenda, parking ticket information, and contact information at a quick glance. Gone is the old slate gray background, multi-font blue script. The new homepage offers a panoramic shot of Tiger Park on Palmer Square, with a quick listing of upcoming community events, ordinances due for review, as well as tax information, mayoral announcements, and news items from Borough administration.

The site bears a striking resemblance to the Borough's parking site, www.princetonparking.org, which is no coincidence, since Borough Council contracted with the same firm, Princeton Online, LLC, to design its new site.

"We had three main goals in putting the site together," said Peter Gibson, who principals Princeton Online with Jeffrey Gould. "First, was to make it less boring from a visual perspective. Second was to make it easy to navigate and use, and third was to have it be easily managed by Borough staff, which will see to the day-to-day maintenance."

After Mark Regov, Princeton Online's creative director, designed the site, Mr. Gibson said he thought the final product would be a useful resource: "We think we came up with a navigation plan that was easy to use."

The Borough agreed to the $7,000 contract earlier this year. That pricetag included creative design and development, as well as newsletter supplement, still in the works.

Princeton Online, which hosts a number of Princeton related sites, including princetondining.com, princetonshopping.com, and princetonlodging.com, is now entering the foray of municipal Web sites, having since been contracted with Monroe Township, Quage on Long Island, and MaiPrinn Street Highland Park, a not-for-profit organization promoting the downtown of the Middlesex County borough.

Princeton Township underwent a Web makeover several years ago, leading to the municipality's being recognized for public information access by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. "The Web is the most comprehensive way to get information to the public," said Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand. "Municipal Web sites are a valuable necessity, not just a luxury."

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