120 UW-Madison students recommend redesigns for MyMonona website

Professor Dorothea Solo’s Digital Information course provides redesign recommendations for MyMonona website following site audit and analysis

Author

Devin R. Larsen

Contributors

Shelly Strom

Metrics

Community
City of Monona, WI, United States
Community Size
8,045 (2018 Census Estimation)
University
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Program
UniverCity Year
Years
2016/2017
Status
Completed
Case Type
Individual Project
Region
EPA Region 5, USA
Community Population Sizes
8045 (2018 Census Estimation)

The City of Monona, Wisconsin, is a small community situated within the Madison Area. With almost 8,000 residents, Monona uses its website, MyMonona.com, as its primary means of communication. Residents can access the city’s website to find information about city council meetings, property appraisals and taxes, applying for a license and much more. 

While their website contains pertinent information for residents, city officials wanted to ensure it effectively connects with residents and communicates information clearly. 

The UniverCity Year program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an EPIC-Network member, was created to help local government and community partners with identified sustainability and livability projects. Participating University faculty incorporate community-identified projects into classes, and provide students with on-the-ground experience in support of a more sustainable and livable future for the partnered community. 

During the 2016 to 2017 academic year, the City of Monona was chosen to partner with the UniverCity Year program due to its proximity to the university and for strong support from Mayor Bob Miller. 

120 students audit the MyMonona website

The UniverCity Year program partnered UW-Madison’s Library & Information Studies 351: Introduction to Digital Information course with the City of Monona to analyze Monona’s MyMonona site. With guidance from Professor Dorothea Solo, nearly 120 students closely examined various portions of the site to assess “the accessibility, usability, and search-engine friendliness” of the MyMonona website, all while “making actionable suggestions for improvement” (UniverCity Year project final report).

To meet project goals, students undertook the following tasks:

  • Performed accessibility testing of the home page with the help of an accessibility website, Achecker
  • Conducted usability testing of various pages by completing one-on-one experiments with participants to see identify how easily items could be found on the site
  • Assessed search-engine friendliness of metadata and site content by using the website Raven Tools

Students produce numerous website redesign recommendations 

Based upon their search criteria and site investigation, students identified areas for improvement on the MyMonona website, which included: increasing site accessibility for the visually impaired, simplifying menu options, and editing content for both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes and to make it less verbose. 

Students provided a website redesign to the City of Monona informed by their findings, which included the following recommendations: 

  • Improving navigation and streamlining content
  • Using alternative text, metadata, and header tags on specific pages
  • Changing the background color of pages while increasing font across the site
  • Fixing broken links and enabling the browser cache to load pages faster for returning site visitors
  • Increasing site interactivity by adding online forms 

With student recommendations in hand, the City of Monona can effectively upgrade their MyMonona website by improving every resident’s user experience, making for a site that is more accessible and user-friendly.

Additionally, the community is continuing to learn about user-friendly website development with Professor Dorothea Salo to prepare for upcoming meetings with the website vendor.  

Read the full story of the partnership.

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

“By fixing these small issues on the website, the City of Monona will be able to include all audiences, and ultimately create a positive, inclusive reputation for the city.”