The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Official Plainfield website 'disappears'


As of early Sunday morning, the city's official website had disappeared.
Anyone trying to visit Plainfield's official website at www.plainfield.com/ early Sunday morning would have been greeted with a puzzling '404 error' message indicating 'the requested resource is not found'.

What?! The city's website gone?!

For two years now, Chris Payne has been developing a new website for the City, which would be hosted on a '.gov' domain. He has come before the Council on a couple of occasions to share some of the progress, but the Robinson-Briggs administration has played it very close to the vest.

A password-protected prototype of the site went up a few months ago, and a few people were given access to review and comment on the project.



The front page of the new '.gov' website early Sunday morning.


It appears that the site is about to go live.

What seems to have happened is that I checked in just at the time Chris and crew were making the changeover, hence the error message.

Going back a few minutes later, the '.gov' web iteration is also on at the '.com' address.

Now, all we need is an indication on the website telling you what is going on, and automatically forwarding you to the new URL address, which you then can bookmark.

You should go take a look. I think you'll find it a considerable improvement over the helter-skelter design which was the Robinson-Briggs heritage after she completely unplugged the website for six months back in her first term. You can see the websites at www.plainfieldnj.gov/ and plainfield.com/.




The city's new web address; you should visit and bookmark it.

Now, if we can just get everyone on the same page email-wise.

The city is supposed to be migrating all email addresses over to the '.gov' domain, but a recent round-robin email including various upper administration officials and Council members showed a mix that ranged from the correct '.gov' extension to the old '.com' extension to some private email addresses.

Residents ought to be able to have a consistent experience with the Robinson-Briggs administration and their elected leaders -- meaning that if they have one person's email address they ought to be able to figure out the correct email for any other person in the organization.

Unless, of course, the object is NOT to make it easy to communicate with the administration and elected officials.


    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    11 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    I can reach both plainfield.com and plainfieldnj.com just fine.

    Anonymous said...

    Thank goodness someone finally got something right in City Hall, in style if not in substance. Homeowners rejoice! Your property value just went up $10K!

    linda said...

    speaking of communication, when is the public access channel going to show some real true plainfield information? right now everytime i watch it, there is nothing but old news releases with outdated information, still photos of the mayor and council but, nothing live of any council, board of ed meetings, hell not even a concert in the park. i'm sure part of the reason is all the unethical, immoral and underhanded business being conducted on a daily basis. i thought the objective of this channel was to inform the public, not keep it in the dark and if it makes those in power look like the characters they are, then so be it. if the station is not going to be used for the purpose in which it was intended, then it should be shut down because it is not serving the citizens of plainfield at all.

    Anonymous said...

    Wow -- TWO years to develop this simple website? The other one was a piece of crap -- wasn't it developed as a "shared service" with the school district, with the same guy involved?

    And how much does this guy make? And what has this guy accomplished in 2 years time? Not much, from what I can see.

    This website design is cookie-cutter, nothing earth-shattering.

    This is just an example at how wasteful government is, how ineffective our dollars (spent on people unqualified for their positions).

    Any just-out-of-school Computer Science major could have whipped out a site like this in a week.

    Oh -- but that's right. The major has her chrony in the position, who let's her pull money out of his department funding for other projects. Wink, wink.

    Anonymous said...

    Crazy that they chose .asp as a platform. Why not WordPress? Wonder what it cost them?

    They have done a lot of work, but some things confound me, like showing a picture of the County Building when you click City Administrator. And the rest of the photo montages are not very inspiring, logically or design-wise. Oh well, it is definitely an improvement!

    Barbara

    Bob said...

    It's interesting that there is a committee to help evaluate these things, I'm on it, and we have never met. I guess Sharon is afraid of the public and in this case the informed public, since we are in IT or some kind of computer field and each has years of experience.

    Pat Turner Kavanaugh said...

    Dan: it's a cheap shot to base your headline and image on what you knew was a temporary situation while installing the new one. Chris Payne is making superhuman efforts to sort out his small part of Plainfield's dysfunctional government, and doesn't deserve cheap shots. He's collateral damage as you go after the mayor.

    Anonymous said...

    still lots of work to be done. 2 years and this is what we get? honestly, this could have been done in 1 month.

    I just figured out why we have no CFO in the city! If you go to the job openings page on the site, and click on the job description for the CFO position-what do you get?

    You get a press release from Ms. Briggs [please just go...] welcoming the new City Administrator!

    That explains why we haven't had a CFO!

    signed,

    a very sad and tired plainfield resident

    Dan said...

    Pat -- I have to disagree. I wasn't taking a 'cheap shot' at Mr. Payne. He has worked very hard on this project, but folks above his pay grade have evidently dragged their feet for some reason.

    I check the city website regularly, and didn't know what was up when I got first the 404 error, then found the .gov site was accessible without a password.

    A relatively minor point, but proper protocol in website changeovers like this would be to shunt folks automatically from the old address to the new one with a note telling them to bookmark the new page and only have one true website up.

    But it's not possible to tell what is on anybody's mind without some clarification right on the website.

    Dan said...

    For those who are cranky about how long it took, etc., if you haven't walked in the mocassins of a city employee who really tries, you ought to be more patient.

    A lot of people at City Hall will be glad when Sharon's term is over.

    Anonymous said...

    Chris - please add some meta tags to the website to make it search engine friendly