Merritt’s official website will soon get a $24,000 makeover.

Councillors voted to sign an agreement with the Kelowna-based Acro Media for website redesign and hosting services at a regular council meeting May 22, after a review revealed Merritt’s current website is outdated.

The City of Merritt’s Economic Development Manager James Umpherson said the website is too static, does not provide interactivity with citizens, staff or elected officials and is not compatible with mobile devices.

“[This represents] a lost opportunity for citizens and potential businesses, tourists and land developers to view our community,” he said in his report to council. “It is also cumbersome to use and requires more technologically minded staff members to address the updates.”

The redesign will address these challenges, creating a visually clean website that is easy to navigate, he said.

Through Acro Media, the initial redesign will cost the city $24,340 as well as $125 per month for hosting (a cost the city already pays).

During the meeting, Coun. Mike Goetz said the cost of the redesign was reasonable; however, he questioned the version of Drupal (a content management system) the designer would incorporate. Councillors approved the agreement subject to confirming that Acro would use the latest version of the platform.

Coun. Alastair Murdoch questioned whether staff would be able to update the website internally, without having to contact Acro and be charged for the service.

Umpherson said one staff member would receive training and be responsible for the updates.

A report from Acro Media outlines the main issues the City wishes to address with the redesign ,including a lack of interactivity, a dated look with no mobile device compatibility, and difficulty updating content.

To address these issues, the new website will allow councillors to update their calendars, citizens to pay bills and city staff to easily update files. The site will be compatible with mobile devices, and include photo galleries, videos and other interactive links. Finally, content will be updated regularly by staff.

“The redevelopment and design of the website supports the vision of the City of Merritt as a great place to visit with lots to see and do,” said Umpherson. “The website is our gateway to the community, the City of Merritt services and the access point for visitors, businesses and industry. Updating and redesigning the image and brand is essential.”