Sidney identifies end of 2022 as target date for municipal website changes – Vancouver Island Free Daily

Changes to the Sidney Municipal website could be coming by the end of 2022.

Chief Administrative Officer Randy Humble said the municipality is reviewing the website for functionality and accessibility this winter, with the end of 2022 being the target date for improvements.

“The website is being revised following public feedback, particularly difficulties in finding information and its compatibility with mobile devices,” he said. “It is also important to (the municipality) and (the council) that the website is as accessible as possible to remove potential barriers for community members and other website users.”

It is not yet known how much the redesign will cost.

“Until the website review is complete and staff have reviewed the feasibility of the proposed improvements, the cost and scope of the project are unknown,” Humble said. “Findings from the review process could also extend the timeline of the project.”

The review takes place in two larger contexts. The first concerns the COVID-19 pandemic, which has moved many person-to-person analog activities online. The second concerns the demographics of Sidney; the community is among the oldest in Canada with a median age of 59.

A 2019 Statistics Canada research article on Internet use among Canadian seniors reveals that the diffusion of information and communication technologies, including the Internet, has occurred at a much slower pace among older Canadians. Canadians aged 65 and older compared to Canadians aged 15 to 64 whose rates have reached what the report calls near-saturation levels (97.2%).

While some factors reflect unchanging historical realities—many seniors today would not have had much exposure to the Internet before 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.

“Technology and web page design is an age-related barrier that reduces access for older adults with functional limitations, such as changes in visual acuity, manual dexterity, and cognitive abilities,” indicates the report. That said, seniors are catching up in terms of usage.

Also worth noting is Sidney’s focus on mobile compatibility. According to the 2018 Canadian Internet Use Survey, in 2019, 88% of Canadians owned a smartphone capable of many of the functions of a computer, with a touchscreen interface, Internet access and an operating system capable of running downloaded applications. Among people aged 15 to 24, 98% had a smartphone. Among people aged 65 and over, 60% owned a smartphone.

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