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Out Here: Why the need for a middleman?

Published: Monday, June 24, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, June 24, 2013 12:01 p.m. CDT

Recently, we ran a story about the Dixon Tourism Board’s website, which is hard to navigate and missing key information, particularly about the Petunia Festival.

Are we wasting our time examining local tourism websites?

I don’t think so. Most people pick their destinations based upon what they find on the Internet. So if a website isn’t easy to use, then a community might lose visitors.

The tourism sites for Rock Falls and Lee County are more informative and user-friendly, yet it looks like all three get roughly the same amount of money. 

So what is stopping the Dixon Tourism Board, which is part of the city government, from putting out a more effective website?

One hurdle may be that its employees haven’t been given the ability to post to the website. They have to go through an employee in the city’s public safety department. That makes the agency less nimble.

Employees of Rock Falls Tourism, by contrast, do have that ability. 

In 2011, the city of Sterling had one of the worst municipal websites in the area. Its financial section’s most recent budget was from a decade earlier. And the roster of elected officials wasn’t updated.

The only person with the ability to post to the website was City Manager Scott Shumard, who had more important responsibilities, such as running the city.

Last year, the city overhauled its site, giving a number of people the authority to post. Now, it’s one of the best city sites in the area.

A few weeks ago, one of my editors and I couldn’t find the events calendar on the Dixon Tourism webpage, which is part of the city’s site. Only after I called the agency did we find out it was on another part of the site, away from the tourism page.

At the very least, that calendar could be moved to the tourism side. Then the city could give the tourism board the power to post directly to its page. In this day of Facebook and Twitter, why does the board need an intermediary?

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.

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