New Web site effective, but expensive

By Editorial Board

The city of Chicago’s Web site is more efficient since its $1.8 million overhaul, using easy-to-click tabs and enhanced search engine capabilities.

Chicago has been working on this expensive endeavor with the city’s in-house technology team for a year. The new Web site,, contains 3,500 pages with added user-friendly functions.

It’s been approximately nine years since the site’s last update.  The site’s past lack of organization makes the changes feel overdue for some Chicagoans and people who frequently visited the site for business purposes.

Prior to the overhaul, the site couldn’t efficiently handle the capacity of users, creating a slow site with a sub-par search engine.

The updated Web site allows people to search a generic word like “license,” without knowing the specific department the license is filed under. It’s also easier to pay parking tickets and includes a list of helpful features for residents, businesses and tourists.

Creating a tab for tourists is crucial because of the numerous visitors coming into the city each year. According to the Chicago Office of Tourism’s 2008 statistics, 45.5 million people visited Chicago last year and spent a reported $11.8 billion.

The 2008 statistics also showed Chicago is the ninth most popular city for overseas travelers, making the new site, more enticing with different language capabilities.

The site was designed after other cities’ award-winning Web sites that were judged by the Center for Digital Government. In 2009, Virginia Beach, Va., won the 1st place award for best city Web site and Riverside, Calif., received second place.

Even though Illinois is facing a major budget deficit, it is still important to make Web sites easier for tourists and residents to navigate.

This new site is an improvement and the funding, which came out of a budget earmarked for “capital equipment,” was well spent in an attempt to promote the city and also become more user-friendly.

However, the state of Illinois is in a financial crisis and any large expenditure should be thoroughly evaluated before embarking on another expensive and not-so-necessary journey.

Overhauling the site was an expensive endeavor and if the funding had not come out of the budget for equipment purposes, the upgrade should have been put on hold.