Changes to Sidney’s municipal website could be coming by late 2022.
Chief administrative Randy Humble said the municipality is reviewing the website for functionality and accessibility this winter with late 2022 being the target date for improvements.
“The website is being reviewed as a result of public feedback, in particular challenges finding information, and its compatibility with mobile devices,” he said. “It is also important to (the municipality) and (council) that the website is as accessible as possible to remove potential barriers for community members and other website users.”
It is not clear yet how much the re-design will cost.
“Until the website review is complete and staff have looked into the feasibility of proposed improvements, the cost and scale of the project is unknown,” said Humble. “Findings of the review process could also extend the project timeline.”
The review happens against two larger backdrops. The first concerns the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shifted many analog, person-to-person activities online. The second concerns Sidney’s demographics; the community is among the oldest in Canada with a median age of 59.
A 2019 research article by Statistics Canada discussing internet use among Canadian seniors finds that the diffusion of information and communications technology, including the internet, has proceeded at a much slower pace among Canadians aged 65 and older compared to Canadians aged 15 to 64, whose rates have reached what the report calls near-saturation (97.2 per cent) levels.
While some factors reflect immutable historical realities — many seniors today would not have received much exposure to the internet prior to retirement because it had not yet become mainstream — other research points to a relationship between website design and internet use among seniors, which generally declines with age.
Of note is also Sidney’s emphasis on compatibility with mobile devices. In 2019, 88 per cent of Canadians owned a smartphone capable of many functions of a computer, having a touchscreen interface, internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded applications, according to the 2018 Canadian Internet Use Survey. Of those aged 15 to 24, 98 per cent had a smartphone. Of those aged 65 over, 60 per cent had a smartphone.
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