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City website upgrade now live

Posted on January 31, 2023

El Dorado News-Times
Staff Writer

Visitors to the city’s Go El Dorado and Grow El Dorado websites this week will notice a major change.

A new and improved site is expected to launch Wednesday, culminating a nearly three-year effort to upgrade and combine the two websites.

In early 2020, a committee made up of community members who are key stakeholders in the areas of economic development, travel, tourism, municipal government, business and industry etc., was formed to oversee the project.

Committee members are associated with the chamber of commerce, which manages, maintains and updates the websites; City Hall; the El Dorado Conference Center; Murphy Arts District; Murphy USA; Mystic Creek Golf Club; and other groups.

The Go El Dorado website was developed in the mid-aughts and has been revamped twice since then.

The site focuses on the community, oversight committee members have said.

Visitors and those who are looking to relocate can find a wealth of information about the city on Go El Dorado, including municipal services, the history of and facts about El Dorado, economic development opportunities, entertainment, shopping, recreation, places of worship, local businesses, etc.

The Grow El Dorado website went online in January of 2015 as a companion to Go El Dorado to target a more specific audience to help raise the area’s economic marketability profile.

The second site provides more detailed information that is of interest to business prospects, including maps, photos, infrastructure, transportation, demographics, workforce data, daily traffic estimates, local and state incentive packages, city codes, permits and ordinances and more.

The oversight committee agreed that the Go El Dorado website had outgrown its purpose of boosting El Dorado’s online presence and that a rebuild was in order, with a goal of combining the Go and Grow websites under the single domain name of ; modernizing and expanding online content and capabilities; and making the site more user-friendly.

Committee members came up with a two-phase plan and in December of 2021, Don Miller, chairman of the committee and newly-elected chairman of the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission, presented a funding request to the A&P commission to cover the cost of phase one.

The first phase entails an upgrade to develop a single website with a modern look and feel; streamlined navigation; mobile responsiveness; a job board; and the ability to communicate with users, via the events calendar, notices, updates, video and more.

The A&P commission dug into its surplus coffers and agreed to fund the first phase of the project with a commitment of up to $40,000.

The oversight committee then sent out requests for proposals (RFPs) to eight advertising /marketing / branding firms.

After sifting through four submissions, the group narrowed its selection to two Arkansas firms, Stone Ward and The Richland Group, ultimately going with Stone Ward, who developed the Go El Dorado site in 2005 – 2006.

Now, three years after the initiative began, visitors will get their first look at the results of the effort this week.

“The process took a little longer than we anticipated,” Don Hale — owner of the Diamond Agency, the A&P commission’s ad agency of record — told A&P commissioners last week.

He sent a shout-out to Kaitlyn Rigdon, economic development project manager for the chamber of commerce, saying that Rigdon worked extensively with Stone Ward to assemble of the components that were needed to prepare for the launch of the new website this week.

“We expect to see a new website and people who go to Go El Dorado will see all new graphics, new photographs, a new look. We’ve taken all of the previous information we’ve made available on the website and updated that content. Plus, we added some new content,” Hale said Monday.

“It should be a comprehensive look at El Dorado and like any new product, we’ll make valuations on it in the coming weeks to see if there’s anything we need to add, modify or enhance,” he said.

Once phase one is completed, the oversight committee will move on to the next phase — enhancing information about and capabilities for city services, including plans for a city fine/bill payment portal, a resident portal with municipal service requests, capabilities for municipal bill payments and city permit purchases and additional features.

Mayor Paul Choate, who took office Jan. 1, has said that making city services more readily accessible and convenient is one of his top priorities.

Choate previously said he is looking into ways to streamline the process of purchasing and renewing city occupation licenses — one of several services he hopes to automate and make available online to better serve the public.

Business occupation licenses are purchased and must be renewed at the start of each year in the City Collector’s office in City Hall.

“We need to make doing business at City Hall more convenient and recognize that, as employees of the city, we truly have 17,756 bosses,” said Choate, referring to the city’s population, per the 2020 U.S. Census.