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    Largo soups up and oils Web site

    The online site has been overhauled, with more information available that is easier to reach.

    By MICHAEL SANDLER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 3, 2002


    LARGO -- Had trouble finding information about city government online? You may want to give Largo another click.

    Hoping to make information more accessible, officials spent months overhauling and redesigning the city's Web site.

    Now www.largo.com has more than commissioners' bios online. The site includes city codes, ordinances and the city manager's weekly report. The Police Department has a daily crime report and trend notification site, and most city forms can be downloaded right from home.

    Doug Matthews, the city's marketing director, said people had called to complain about the old site, saying it was difficult to navigate. He hopes the facelift will cut down on the confusion.

    "We had a mission of getting them there in three clicks," Matthews said.

    Matthews said the city spent $12,000 for a consultant to redesign the site, and that includes making it fully interactive and training select staffers to update the page in real time. An additional $1,500 will be spent next year to polish a few more rough edges.

    He said the investment in a site that most employees can learn to update saves the city nearly $50,000 a year they would have needed to hire a Web master.

    The city still needs to work on improving access to the City Commission's agenda, one of the few remnants of the old site and still a complicated process.

    Matthews said the agenda link is one of five links not yet available in a user-friendly format. By clicking on the agenda link, surfers connect to a file directory that immediately looks different and appears confusing.

    Changes are expected by November, so he hopes people will be patient.

    "This is a beginning, not an end," Matthews said. "This has laid the groundwork and we will continue to improve here."

    To make a suggestion about the Web site, e-mail Doug Matthews at cityinfo@largo.com.

    -- Michael Sandler can be reached at 445-4174 or sandler@sptimes.com.

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