WordPress Cities: The New Government Web Standard

Sites for Cities is a new WordPress initiative to bring WordPress powered websites to local, city, and state governments.

City, town, and other municipality websites have long been in need of usability updates. Systems made decades ago were static and hard to update, rarely interact with any kind of social media, and see visitors often complaining about not being able to find the information they need.

Put simply, most governments are online in domain name only – with no meaningful interaction. And that’s certainly not reflective of today’s growing “community” on the web, nor its more recent advances in online technology.

Take Los Angeles, for example. One of the most progressive cities, increasingly more tech-friendly, and one of the most populated. But their official city website is awful. LACity.org runs on an old html platform, and is a major eye-sore. If you can find anything meaningful on the site navigating less than 20 steps – you’re a better person than me. Responsive? Not a chance.

New York City, one of the biggest in the world, isn’t much better: NYC.gov suffers from the same drawbacks as the website for the City of Los Angeles – it’s hard to navigate, has an outdated design, horrible typography, and suffers from information overload.

WordPress aims to change all that – by bringing current technology and style to government websites with a new effort called WordPress Cities. Basically, it’s a low-cost WordPress powered website for your local government with features like:

  • Social network integration
  • Event calendars
  • Ability to upload photos and videos
  • Ability to edit css directly
  • Theme customization options
State of Missouri WordPress powered website.
Click for larger view.

Of course, all this is normally available for WordPress users, but for most municipalities – slick sites could only be obtained by paying a custom designer to create it for them, and in this economy – big money spent on new web designs is guaranteed to bet with cynicism by the public.

Thankfully, WordPress is not an expensive platform on which to develop, and that’s one of the reasons the Sites for Cities program might just be able to change the way our governments exist online. The State of Missouri has a beautiful WordPress powered website that is much easier to read than the city sites mentioned previously, and was no doubt developed at a fraction of the cost.

You’re not sold yet? How about the City of Albert Lee, which hired a local resident to design an inexpensive CMS on WordPress and saved $19,000 in the design and implementation process.

The WordPress Sites for Cities package is available at super-low prices. For less than $150 per year, a local gov can get a custom domain name, a pretty web site, storage space to host official documents required to be given to the public, and much, much more.

WordPress’ open source nature, ease of use, and extensibility has made it the platform chosen by 1 out of every 6 new websites. The new WordPress Cities offering is just another way WordPress makes it easier for government to get in touch with its public on a level that’s becoming increasingly familiar to them.