Refreshing New Look For Westport’s Website

So much of Westport sparkles.

Our transformed library. Compo Beach, from the playground and pavilion to the new South Beach walkway and grills. Longshore. Staples High School. The Saugatuck River. From Harbor Road to Beachside Avenue, Sherwood Mill Pond to Mahackeno, this is a truly remarkable town.

Our website, however, sucked.

Last updated in 2011 — after 2 previous equally grim versions — it was an ugly, bloated mess. Typography, layout, massive text and lack of photos  — all that wouldn’t have been so bad, if you could easily find what you were looking for.

But you could not.

Happily, as of today Westport’s official website is as crisp, clear and clean as so many of our other wonders.

The new website landing page.

Don’t believe me? Click here!

The new site was more than 2 years in the making. First Selectman Jim Marpe appointed a Website Redevelopment Steering Committee, including town staff and residents with expertise in technology, design, economic development and community interests.

They worked with Granicus, a company that specializes in website services for local governments.

Since the 2011 version debuted, users have migrated from desktops to mobile devices. The new website, all agreed, had to be mobile-friendly.

In addition, town operations director Sara Harris says, users needed quicker access to information.

“Popular services” and “I Want To…” provide quick access to information.

One key feature of the new design is a better search bar. The former “mega-menu” has been cleaned up and streamlined.

The committee used Google Analytics to rearrange the “How do I…?” section. The most popular requests — regarding, for example, beach passes, railroad parking permits, town maps, employment opportunities, open bids and bid results, and videos of town meetings — are given the most prominence.

A one-click “Popular Services” section makes it easier to pay taxes, register for programs, and get meeting agendas and minutes.

News is more prominently displayed on the home page.

There are more photos too, showing (of course) Westport at its best and most beautiful.

An “Economic Opportunity” page is aimed at anyone considering opening a business or relocating here. The goal, Harris says, is to show the town’s great quality of life, and support of business.

For the first time, Westport is marketing directly to businesses and employers.

The site now offers a 1-click link to subscribe to some (or all!) town notifications: emergency alerts, meeting information, news, you name it.

And — this is very, very cool — the Town Charter, plus every ordinance and regulation (including Planning & Zoning, the Conservation Commission, and Parks & Recreation Commission) are all available on one page.

As often happens, after the 2011 website went live certain sections lay dormant. Now, every department has a designated content manager. They’re trained on how to keep their own pages fresh and updated — and respond to users’ evolving needs.

The Parks & Recreation page is one of the most visited on the town’s website.

As part of the project, volunteers with marketing and design backgrounds — including graphic artist Miggs Burroughs; advertising creative director Rob Feakins; brand innovation principal and Westport Downtown Merchants Association president Randy Herbertson, and marketer Jamie Klein — worked to refresh the town’s “brand identity.”

Westport’s new website logo.

They eventually settled on a new logo. Designed by Samantha Cotton — who grew up in and now works here — it suggests open space, the movement of water or sails, and “open warmth and refreshing coolness.”

After a month of testing by the committee and town staffers, the new website went live yesterday.

Harris says, “We’re confident that users will be happy with the experience. We think it represents the town very well.”

She invites residents — and everyone else — to test-drive the new website. The URL is the same:

What do you think? Click “Comments” here.

And/or email the town directly:

Of course, you can also do it from the site itself. Nearly every page has a “feedback” button.

It’s simple. It’s easy.

And that’s the whole idea behind the refreshing new website refresh.

A highlight of the new website is the Highlights page.

28 responses to “Refreshing New Look For Westport’s Website

  1. Brenda Waldron

    Westport Center for Senior Activities is not a highlight?? Also, WCSA website is not currently available.

    • Sara Harris

      The WCSA site is working now. We can make this into a highlight.

      • Bobbi Essagof

        I’m sure Brenda meant “Hey, Can we highlight the Senior Center Activities? No offense meant to Brenda as we all rush to comment. A little kindness goes a long way!
        Thanks Sara foe the quick, positive response.

    • E. van Dorsten

      The “new” W town logo is as creative as the “W” on the ladies room door at Bar Taco. All jesting aside, the town needs to form a new self-appointed “citizen’s committee” to bring back the Minuteman or take a referendum vote on this in November…….Is Connecticut still revolutionary?…or has Connecticut become complacent? .. Some no doubt will insist we change Minuteman history to “herstory” in order to take the logo back….others will suggest it be MinutePerson vs Minuteman. But if you still have a vote.. vote for the Minuteman as it was…colorful, bold in purpose, radiating thru sunshine the hope of the future. The Minuteman is a brilliant design. Let’s bring it back!

  2. Morley Boyd

    The new logo looks like something one might associate with a large, mid-western hospitality chain; airbrushed, cold and context free. What was so wrong with our Minuteman?

  3. Susan Lloyd

    where is the Minuteman? has he been kicked to the curb?

    • Sara Harris

      The Minuteman flag reference remains unchanged on the town’s site and is still on the Town Hall flagpole. See link:

      • The narrative explaining the meaning of that deflating W logo is peculiar (see below). I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s almost as if it was translated from another language. At any rate, as a sailor, I’m vexed by the term “seaworthy sails”.

        “The new Westport logo integrates a dramatic use of open space in its iconography, reflecting the movement of water or seaworthy sails, and is a nod to the many artists who have called Westport home over the years. The color palate is vibrant and diverse, representing an open warmth and refreshing coolness.”

        • Michael Calise

          The mere fact that it needs to be explained illuminates the fact that it is not conveying the intended message

  4. Michael Calise

    A Gross Error to drop the Minuteman. It spoke loudly and clearly for a significant part of our Westport history. The W has absolutely no meaning except in the minds of the small group of creators who obviously have a lack of historical context. An updating of the image might have been appropriate but this abrupt change is truly unfortunate. A sad day for Westport.

  5. Mary Cookman Schmerker

    I Agree! No Minuteman! Unfortunate! The logo could be for anywhere or almost anything. cold, impersonal, …..

    • Jay Walshon MD FACEP

      Yet another example of Town Hall’s failure to take the pulse of the community prior to making a decision that affects the people whom they allegedly serve.

      Not only another gross mischaracterization of Westport, but now this being our emblem to the entire world, perhaps the final blow.

  6. Very comprehensive and swanky!! … like Westport. 😁

  7. Add me in for keeping the minuteman an the logo. Many towns begin with W, but only Westport has the minuteman.

  8. Jack Whittle

    On the larger topic of the new Town website – bravo ! – a huge improvement in look and functionality (esp like the sensitivity to mobile access). Well done, team.

    As far as the new Town “logo” – while I’m sure much thought and effort went into this, I am on the side of those who think the Minuteman could and should have been preserved and incorporated into the new design. The “W” alone, regardless of how stylistic it is, has no connection to Westport – it could just as well be the logo for Windex, Wafflehouse, or Waterbury.

  9. Jennifer Rankine

    Agree the new version is nice, crisp and clean, but I too am surprised the Minuteman was dropped. I would also add Connecticut to the landing page, as there are lots of Westports – – MA, WA, PA, OK . . . even Westport OK uses the W too.

  10. Linda Grabill Parker

    Very nice…!

  11. Caroline Walshon

    The new Westport logo looks like someone blended the Walmart and Goodwill logos together. So tacky and unimaginative! How disheartening to get rid of our Minuteman; Westport’s unique symbol of INDEPENDENCE!!!!! This is just another TRUE example of “If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix it” Who’s bright idea was this anyways?

  12. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    $800K for the new South Beach outhouse. And God(dess) only knows how much for the logo/website redo. Well, If the Minuteman has to go, at least he doesn’t have to walk as far.

  13. Jack Krayson

    The entire creative strategy statement and rationale, is proof enough that no one gets it. What is the objective? Just another example of three pounds of BS, stuffed into a two pound bag.

  14. Elisabeth Keane

    Well, it seems to me that the updated town website is incredibly generically bland. The parsimonious descriptions that so appear leave out so much about what makes our town the special place it is. I cannot believe that someone who really knows Westport could have written most of the descriptions. There was nothing to entice readers from elsewhere to learn about or visit Westport. Was there a word limit?

    I do wonder why some of the pretty pictures do not show the cannons, another iconic Westport image. The cannons could have appeared in an overhead beach shot or simply on their own. The town history page certainly requires a good picture (one of the many hundred such photos that exist) of the cannons.

    But the real question is how all the townsfolk who would have participated with the outside clerks who put this together could have permitted our Minuteman to be completely ignored. Nothing! No picture at all. Anywhere. Not even on the spartan Town History page that contains very little information presented in very short paragraphs. (Was there a page limit?) Brief mention about 1777 but not a word about our Minuteman and what he represents. Nothing about the context of cannons and Minuteman (nor the tiny often overlooked burial ground close by the Minuteman) and the British march to Danbury. Nothing written about our Minuteman in the banal town description of Westport. Not even an image of one of the blue directional arrow signs (Main Street, this way, Everywhere Else that way) with the Minuteman emblem. Screaming silence. The Minuteman is our’s. A statue does not get dressed up by townsfolk with winter hat and scarf, Santa hat, flags, or bunny ears if said statue is not beloved and important. Even the birds seem to respect him. Have you ever seen birds sit on him? If they have, no one has sent pictures of that around.

  15. Elisabeth Keane

    About that new logo with the entirely unrelatable listing W. Is it listing to port or starboard? No matter. That letter W also makes me seasick to look at it, bringing back unpleasant memories of a long ago trip to the canyon off Montauk. Lucky for me, for other reasons we had to turn back. Longest three hours of my life….

  16. Ted Horowitz

    That new logo….weak and wobbly. Where is the Minuteman when we need him!

  17. Scrap the “W” and keep
    the Minuteman.

  18. Bobbi Essagof

    So happy about easier navigation. Just bookmarked it!

  19. Bobbi Essagof

    I can’t believe all this negativity. The new site is so much easier to use and will get rid of frustrating time spent looking for anything Westport. I think the creators who worked very hard, I’m sure, deserve a big Thank You, instead of all this griping!

    • Audrey Hertzel

      My thoughts exactly, Bobbi! Geeesh! — Welcome to Westport! The new site looks awesome and is so much easier to navigate! Kudos to everyone involved!

      • Morley Boyd

        While I don’t necessarily accept the premise that local government projects must only receive praise, I’m not aware that anyone was actually expressing a negative opinion about the site per se. Rather, the passion was almost exclusively focused on just one visual detail; the so-called logo. It turns out that symbols which have substantive cultural and historic meaning and which have long been associated with a place many call home are not to be trifled with. The Minuteman is shorthand for Westport, is loved by all and is in no danger of being mistaken for the identity of a big box store or an extended stay corporate lodging chain. Plainly the designers of the new site, for whatever reason, did not fully appreciate this. It was not likely anything nefarious on their part. They just “missed the mark” as our friends over at Regency recently said about Ospreygate. But now they have received something of great value: honest, heartfelt feedback from those whom they serve. Let’s see if they are responsive.