City painstakingly rebuilding Web site

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

Take a complicated Web site, one with a vast amount of content from several different departments, then write down the gist of each page on a corresponding 4×4-inch post-it note — and then stick them all on a huge poster board almost the size of a single wall.

That can be the ultimate outcome when your Web site crashes, as city of Portales administrators have found out.

It was back in early August when the site that serves the various functions of the city went down and, ever since, it’s been city employees that have been painstakingly trying to reconstruct it.

One of the first steps was to get an idea of what was needed — and that’s where the giant visual aid comes in.

So big is the illustrative poster full of notes, the tape used to keep it on the wall has given out.

“What happened is we lost pretty much the whole Web site. When that happened, of course we had to load it back in,” Portales City Manager Tom Howell said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen at a good time to budget money, so we’re having to build it back with staff — when we get time.

“Nicole (Wilkening, the city’s community affairs coordinator) and Dennis Hailes, our IT guy, are sort of spearheading it,” Howell added. “We’ve got it organized how we want to do it — the library’s going to do their pages, the police department is going to do their pages, then we’re going to start picking up some of the other (departments).”

At www.portalesnm.org, the rudimentary beginnings of the new site have already been posted, although a listing of each department with phone numbers is the only content page not “under construction.”

The demise of the old site, which was built through a Web site developer, came as a result of a server crash where the pages were located.

This time, the city plans on using the same server, but keeping back-up copies of each page in-house.

“I think it hurts us a little with Cannon (Air Force Base) growing, because those people come in and they want to look at the Web site,” Howell said.

“It’s a real important tool for us. People access the site before they call us,” said Wilkening, who came to the area herself because of a transfer to Cannon AFB. “I know when I moved here, the first thing I did was jump on the website. We’re just asking everyone to be patient with us.”

The top priority for the city is to post pages with information about rates and costs for city services. Howell said he would like the new site to be more “user friendly” and eventually would like job application forms on-line as well as the ability to pay bills by city residents.

“My nights and weekends are filled with Web site,” Wilkening said. “You can’t see it right now, but internally the site map is basically set up with folders. We just have to start inputing stuff on the pages. What you’re probably going to see is pages go up fast and then see them getting revamped.”

Wilkening, for now, laughs off the idea that she’s now a “webmaster.”

“Once it’s up, I’d say I’d be close,” she said. “This is just something that I’ve happened to have a few classes on and not many of us have had that.”