Redesigning the Nantucket Town Website

Sponsor: Town of Nantucket IT Department
Sponsor Liaison: Linda Rhodes, IT Manager
Jason Bridges, IT Specialist
Student Team: Matthew Cote, Jonathan Sorrells, Yihao Zhou
Abstract: To enhance the use of e-governance on Nantucket, the Town of Nantucket decided to redesign its town website. The Nantucket IT Department desired a website that allowed users to easily find information and was also easy for town officials to keep up to date. In order to help address both residents’ and town employees’ needs, the team conducted surveys and a series of department meetings, and also analyzed data from the previous Nantucket Town Website. The project resulted in a list of recommendations on the design, content, and functionalities of the new Nantucket Town Website.
Link: IT-B13_FinalReport_4714

Executive Summary

Electronic governance (e-governance) is becoming a growing political tool in today’s world of technology. Two particular characteristics of the internet – ease of access and cost efficiency – have led many companies as well as government departments to move their communications and data to the internet. The ease of transactions, personalization, usability, and government transparency the internet offers, has led to the rise of e-governance. However, the new online trend must deal with certain issues before it will be able to be used most efficiently. These issues include the security of sensitive data, an inequality in the information flow between a government and its people, and the access inequality that is created by those who do not have a way to utilize the internet.

To remain up to date with the e-governance trend, the Town of Nantucket decided to update their town website. Although the current website was contemporary and efficient at the time of its creation, modern web design had changed so much over the past years that it was simply rendered out of date. Therefore, a new third party vendor, CivicPlus, was chosen for the redesign.

The goal of this project was to make recommendations to improve the Nantucket town website. These recommendations were done by identifying the users of the site, identifying who needs to update the site, and identifying what features are wanted on the site. Some issues with the current website are that it is outdated and difficult to navigate. Through department meetings and surveys, the team determined who will be the primary users of the website and who will be controlling the information available on the website, in order to then get the opinion on what those groups want from the website. We collected information through department meetings with representatives of local government to determine the needs of town departments, and surveys of the local population to determine what features are wanted on the website. This information was used to make recommendations to our sponsor regarding the proper design features to use.


To understand where we were starting from, the team first analyzed the 2007- 2013 Nantucket Town Website. This was done by creating two different site maps, a navigation based and a URL based one, that showed us the hierarchy of the town website and where that could be improved. We also reviewed the analytics that the current vendor provided us to better understand how people were using the website. Lastly, the team completed a comprehensive department page analysis that highlighted what was wrong with the department pages on the Nantucket Town Website such as broken links, misplaced information, and navigation difficulties.

In order to understand the opinions and needs from different user groups on the island the team created and distributed two separate surveys. One of the surveys was distributed to the public and the business community on the island. The public sector survey was distributed through a post on the Nantucket Town Website, fliers with a QR code to the survey posted throughout the island, and in-person advertisement on the island. The other survey was sent to the town employees and was distributed by our sponsor Jason Bridges through the town employee e-mail alias. These two surveys were both similar although the town employee survey contained more open ended questions because it dealt with people who are very familiar with the website and use it almost daily.

We met with two prominent departments that had to be included in the website design, Town Administration and Visitor Services. Both of these department’s pages contained a lot of information that had to be formatted to fit the “clean-up” model. Therefore, we chose to meet with them so we could ensure any future information that is added, and the information that is currently on their site, is formatted correctly.


From the information that was gathered from our analytics review, surveys, and department meetings we were able to determine the best way to approach the design of the new website. After reviewing and analyzing information on CivicPlus and its modules, we were able to tailor the design approach to CivicPlus’ needs and formatting. These results included data on what features were wanted on the homepage and how people wanted the department pages to be utilized. We were also able to see what functionalities were wanted on the website and how we could fit CivicPlus module to meet the desired needs.


Our project presented a rare IQP experience. Whereas most projects work towards a list of recommendations, we worked towards a concrete product, the finished town website. The interaction with the third party vendor, CivicPlus, also made this a unique experience because our recommendations had to fit the design model they use for all municipal websites. CivicPlus enhanced the project by providing a platform to build recommendations off of. The modules that they offered were used to fit public and government needs.

The island of Nantucket also presented a distinct challenge in designing the municipal website. Nantucket is an island that has a small town atmosphere in the winter and is a vacation hotspot in the summer. The website had to represent and feel like it belonged to a small tight knit community while still not ignoring the thousands of tourists that look to visit the island.


Our recommendations include features that we believe should be on the homepage, the layout of department pages and what CivicPlus modules should be incorporated in the new town website. These recommendations were based off of our survey results, the analysis of the 2007- 2013 Nantucket Town Website, and the reviewing of CivicPlus modules. For the homepage we recommended including Calls to Action, a Smart Picture Slideshow, a Calendar, and a Recent News/ Spotlight section. These were all recommended to make the homepage easy to navigate and use in order to increase the percentage of visitors to site that can find their information easily and efficiently.

The department pages recommendations included how we believe the banners should be formatted on either side of the page. From top to bottom we recommend Related Pages then the same Calls to Action found on the homepage in the right banner. For the left banner we recommend top to bottom it contains Contact, Quick Link, and then FAQs. To enhance these department pages and the overall website we also recommended the following modules: Licenses and Permits, Blog, Facilities and Reservations, Notify Me, Report a Concern, Related Pages, Job Postings, and Staff Directory.