To read what Benest wrote this week in his “Frank’s Weekly Memo” Web Link on the city’s website shows that he is either creating the spin, is in a state of denial, and/or refuses to acknowledge there are any real problems.
A sampling from his page:
“Over the last week, many members of the public have explored our new website and weighed in with their impressions. Some like the sleek new look while others like the move towards classifying information into 'themepods' such as Living, Visiting and the Environment. Many are pleased that we retained the department listing for those familiar with locating information that way. Others find the phone directory to be helpful. As with any change, whether to a new website or way of doing things, we also have received some constructive feedback. As a result, we are reviewing our search application’s methodology and functionality to help ensure that users obtain the results they expect when searching for common terms.”
Compare and contrast that with all the resident comments on my recent blog, “Palo Alto’s website is user unfriendly.” Web Link and a similar blog, “City’s new web site aims for elegance, utility,” Web Link on the Weekly’s web site. It is absolutely — and almost unanimously — clear that residents don’t like the newly designed web pages. Everything I read complained about the site.
This new site is not what Palo Alto residents want or need.
What I want is maturity in our city staff — the ability of both our staff and council to admit a mistake. I can fully understand making a mistake (I certainly do), but when that happens, they should be admitted, and not simply denied or spun off into positive jargon.
I don’t think the many blogs on this website are simply the fringe element in town, as some city officials have suggested. I think they represent the people who care about Palo Alto, who follow the city council, who want to know more about what is going on in our city. We are not “customers” nor are we the visitors the web site is apparently geared toward.
City officials approved this site in advance. I have to question their judgment.
And back to that straw. Design of a web site is not a critically important issue for this city. But there has been much resident discontent the past couple of years, and maybe something like a new but poorly designed website coalesces us. It becomes symbolic of what is wrong at city hall when all we are given is positive spin.
I, for one, want a bit of honesty.