Local and national website designers will have a chance, starting Friday through April 19, to submit proposals for the desperate facelift of Lansdale Borough's online brand.
"Something had to be done about it," said Councilman and Communication Commission Chair Denton Burnell at Wednesday night's council session. "We're going to take a holistic approach. It's not simply about making the website look better; it's really in how we organize the content that's there, how to ... extend and adapt and improve the site as we grow as a borough."
Borough Manager Timi Kirchner announced Wednesday night that a Request for Proposals (RFP) will be finalized on Friday, opening up bids from interested firms for the next 30 days.
"A municipality's website is often the first place people go when they want to find something out about a town," Kirchner said. "You want to make sure that that first place they go is user friendly, but also attractive, and puts out a really good message about your community."
She said "true to form" the borough went through its branding study and IT study. Both of those studies, she said, recommended an overhaul of the Lansdale website.
"We are activating those studies and moving forward," she said.
The Communication Commission and the Economic Development Committee—"Those two together are the consponsors of this effort," Kirchner said—have formed a steering committee to develop the RFP and also to vet firms in the RFP process. The steering committee will also work with the selected firm in the design of the website.
The steering committee is: Communication Commission members Richard Murphy, Scott Hatch, Brian Berkenstock, and Burnell; Economic Development Committeeman and Councilman Steve Malagari; borough IT coordinator Brian Potser and borough communication coordinator Tracy Flynn.
"The steering committee will work to select a consusltant and bring them on board to work with the steering committee in the design of the website," Kirchner said. "The joint committees receive all propsals. They will have an opportunity to read through and score them."
Burnell said after Monday's Economic Development Committee and Communication Commission that the steering committee will whittle down the applicants to three. Then, it will hold interviews and finally select one consultant.
Kirchner said the selection will be a "thoroughly-vetted process."
"This will be very much worked on by both staff, council members and the community," she said.
Burnell, she said, spearheaded this project since the beginning.
"Denton Burnell is our fearless leader as we move through that," she said. "Staff is really excited with moving forward on this."
Burnell said the committees are "casting the net far and wide" in the search for a designer.
"We'll look locally, look nationally. I am hopeful we will find somebody nearby," he said. "Again, we will look for the best person for the job. If they happen to be here, that's great."
Councilman Dan Dunigan, as administration and finance committee chair, said there wouldn't be an RFP for anything if the borough wasn't financially sound.
"We spent a few years getting our financial house in order, and now we sit in a position where we can move down a list of things to be tackled," Dunigan said. "
He said "rest assured" Lansdale's financial house is in order.
"We talked about what we've done fiscally, with getting our books in order and capital planning and having yourself set up for the future financially," he said. "You don't do RFPs for your website if your financial house isn't in order."