Longview’s digital footprint got a distinct overhaul this week, as the city launched a renovated website about 3 1/2 months after pulling it down because of hacking attacks.
“We see communication as an extension of customer service, and this is the greatest form of communication that we can have because it is there 24/7,” Media Development Administrator Terry Miller said. “It will be able to be there and give us a good presentation, whether we personally are there or not.”
Miller said an overhaul such as the one the city undertook often takes 10 months to a year to complete.
“In order to give flexibility to our major departments like the library, parks and recreation, police, fire and Maude Cobb — to give them their own identity and still maintaining the structural integrity of the whole umbrella is a huge undertaking,” Miller said.
The new website received a soft launch Monday.
The city launched an interim website Feb. 10, about a week after pulling down longviewtexas.gov because of issues after hacking attacks.
Miller said the city had been planning to renovate the website this year and budget for the project the next year.
The decision to pull down the website was taken as an opportunity to speed up the renovation.
City spokesman Shawn Hara said the company the city was working with for its previous website had informed the city it planned to narrow its focus and the city would need a new vendor when it upgraded.
“Security was one of our concerns,” he said. “So we wanted to make sure it was part of the discussions with the vendor. … They showed that they have had some experience meeting those needs.”
“We went with a vendor that had experience in creating secure websites,” he said.
In March, the City Council agreed to a three-year contract with CivicPlus for the new website. The initial cost of the contract was about $31,000.
Neither Hara nor Miller elaborated on the specific steps to improve the security.
“There is no magical thing … (it is) the security that they have for their infrastructures and the way that they handle things,” Hara said. “They have demonstrated that what they do for security and how it has worked well for other communities that had active security risks didn’t have any actual impact.”
CivicPlus of Manhattan, Kansas, has worked with more than 1,800 governments, including Plano and Flower Mound, according to its website.
The company has helped rebuild websites since 2001.
Miller said there were about 5,000 pages on the city website before it was pulled and some information had been consolidated in the new website.
New features include notification options for page updates and mega-menus to make finding information easier.
In 2014, the city’s website saw 426,359 users, with more than 1.5 million page views.
In a single week from Dec. 1 to 7, the website was visited more than 21,000 times by more than 7,700 users, Miller said.
The hacking attempts — which a YouTube video linked to the Jan. 22 shooting death of a 17-year-old by Longview police — temporarily shut down the website overnight Jan. 24 and 25, and then throughout the following week.
Miller said the site is about 90 percent complete.
Users who find an issue with the site can email firstname.lastname@example.org.