On Thursday, the city launched a new website that replaced a site with a core design that dated back to January 2003 – virtually an eternity ago in the online world.

“We realize that this is where people get their information now and how people interact with the city,” spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said. So the city contracted with a Kansas-based firm, CivicPlus, that specializes in designing websites for local governments.

The design and content management contract with CivicPlus costs $22,000 a year for the first three years.

Portland’s old website was often criticized as difficult to navigate and outdated, especially for a city that touts its “creative economy” and thriving artistic community.

The new site features a photo of the Old Port waterfront – displayed under the city slogan “Yes. Life’s good here” – as well as a scrolling gallery of images of downtown streetscapes and Jewell Falls taken by Portland-based photographer Corey Templeton.

The site provides a “How Do I…” portal for common services, such as registering a vehicle, obtaining a dog license or paying a parking ticket. The homepage also features links to agendas and minutes for future and past government meetings as well as an online archive of city documents.

While those documents were available on the old website, the new site is designed to make resources easier to find, officials said in announcing the site launch.

“Our goal is to provide more transparency and a better online experience for our customers, and we feel that this site helps us achieve that,” City Manager Mark Rees said in a statement. “Residents will find much more information at their fingertips and visitors will benefit from the collaboration with our external partners.”

Two new features are a “Community Voice” section where people can comment on city initiatives and a “My Portland” feature allowing users to customize the site to their preferences.

City officials plan to showcase the new site – and offer visitors a chance to navigate it – during the City Hall stop on the First Friday Art Walk on Friday. Copies of the photographs used on the site will also be available for purchase.

Kevin Miller can be reached at (207) 791-6312 or at:

kmiller@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH