This page was last reviewed on December 30, 2016.
The goal of this web site is crystal clear communication between residents, businesses and visitors to Cumberland and their government.
Clear writing, design and technology all work together to advance that goal. Here are some of the principles we use when developing the site.
The web site is a vital part of open government
Modern technology lets us share information more easily than ever before. We will make the most of these tools to provide as much open and engaging access to information as possible.
Think about the user’s goals first
Each page is started by identifying the questions the page will answer for users, with the most frequent questions getting the highest priority. The page is considered from the view of a resident, a business owner and a visitor. Before publishing any page we ask “Will this page answer their questions?”
Provide the most important information at a glance
Most users are looking for a small subset of information. That information should be available at a glance, without needing to delve through paragraphs of text. When creating pages we ask “What information will the majority of users want?” That information should appear at the top of the page and be easy to read.
Pages should use sub headings to make them easy to skim and information should be organized from most general to most specific.
Who knows the subject the best?
The Village offers a wide range of services and has a knowledgable staff who are expert in their respective areas. Front-line staff are involved in developing pages in their subject areas whenever possible.
What services does the Village offer?
Users may not always know which services the Village provides and which are provided by other organizations. Commonly-used services provided by others (e.g. policing) should be included on the Village’s site and provide links for more information.
Write in plain language
The Village’s web site serves a diverse audience. Users may be of any age, speak a variety of languages at home and have varying degrees of education and familiarity with the Village. Simple, concise language is the best way to ensure that everyone can use the site. We aim to use short sentences and avoid fancy words and jargon.
HTML is better than downloadable files
Wherever possible we put information directly on the page (i.e. in HTML) rather than attaching it as a download (e.g. PDF, Excel). Information in a page is searchable, looks good on everything from mobile phones to big computers and is more accessible to those with disabilities. It avoids users needing other programs to view content and it also presents information consistently within the site’s design.
Downloadable files are only used for highly-formatted content (e.g. large financial reports, online application forms) and for content that is not available in digital form.
Tags and excerpts are important
Tags and excerpts work together to power the search and navigation system. Tags work best when they are used consistently, so think carefully before adding new ones. Excerpts are displayed before a user clicks on a page. They should provide a concise view of what’s on the page and, when appropriate, answer the most common user question directly.
Links are important
Adding hyperlinks to pages makes it easier for visitors to get more information and verify sources. Wherever possible we will add links to the text of each page leading to related and supporting information. Instead of linking the words ‘click here’ links should be descriptive. For example: Instead of Council approved the new bylaw. Click here for details. we prefer Council approved the new bylaw.
Create pages that will last
When creating new pages think to the future and build pages that can grow rather than be left stagnant. For example, an annual water report should live on a single page, with new reports added to that page each year.
The web sites needs regular care
Like a house plant, a car or a building, web sites need regular care. Content must be reviewed regularly and users should grow to trust that the site is current and accurate. With care, the web site can grow more valuable as it ages.
How is the site working for you?
Did you find what you were looking for? Did you discover anything new as you were browsing? Was it easy to get around?
We’d be grateful for your feedback. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any thoughts, suggestions for improvement or requests for new information to be added to the site.Search again