Alternative to CivicPlus for City Websites

ICON Enterprises (doing business as ‘CivicPlus’) is a company in Kansas that specializes in building municipal websites.   My company (Delaware.Net) competes with companies like this from around the country when we bid on municipal website design projects.    We lost a couple of prospective new projects to CivicPlus in 2007 when we were in the middle of producing our own Content Management System (CMS) for government websites. But in 2008, we had completed building and testing our CMS system for eGovernment websites, and we have won many municipal projects from around the USA ever since. Our new system is called CivicLogic CMS. In this article, I will explain why our solution is better than some of the other options out there, and how we can help municipalities to migrate to our solution.

Here are some of the differences between us and our competitors;

Some municipal website design companies package websites into flat fees based on the number of citizens that live in the city/town in question.   This flat-rate pricing doesn’t work because smaller cities end up overpaying for their website, and larger cities end up paying more for add-on website modules to get a complete solution.    Delaware.Net’s fees for municipal websites is usually less than these other companies, and our proposals are more accurate because they are customized for each site.  Our one-time development fees for municipalities have ranged typically from $8000 for a smaller municipality up to $30,000 for a very large site (included dedicated servers, backups, GIS integration, and much more than the average website), with the average Delaware.Net project being closer to $10,000. You could always spend much, much more, as evidenced by this quote given by CivicPlus.

Other firms bundle design pricing with hosting over multi-year terms, selling the website services as a lease.  This can trap the municipality with a vendor over a long period of time, limiting their options. A small city website project that we just won was quoted at $27,000 for a 3-year project from CivicPlus. Our contract was under $9,000 for custom design and development, training, an Intranet, a request tracking system, email newsletter system, consulting, and more. We bill for our projects in three or four payments, so this is much more affordable. We saved that small city over $14,000, and their site will also be completed much faster on our more powerful CMS.

One of the challenges of building a custom website on a CMS is how to make the site not appear to look like a template. Our designs are custom, and we are not cranking out cookie-cutter designs. Many times we hire local photographers at each city to get the best possible result.

Marketing speak aside, you have to really demo a Content Management System (CMS) before you buy it.  Your CMS is where you will be spending a lot of your time managing your website.    When you try these systems, ask yourself – “how easy will this system be for my employees to use?”.   If a system requires 6-12 clicks to accomplish editing a page, and our system takes 2-3 clicks, ours will save your employees a LOT of time over the other system.  All municipal CMS platforms are not created equally. We spent quite a bit of time looking at competing CMS solutions before we built ours, and it took us two years to get it just right. Some systems, like CivicPlus, are simply a page management system for your website.  Others, like our CivicLogic system, are designed to be a true Intranet (secure staff website) for your staff, as well as being a CMS.    With a true Intranet website, you can securely add personnel documents, resources, file, pages, calendars, news, messaging, and much more for your staff.   Each department in your city can have their own private calendar and portal to share information.   This will save your municipality time and money, and get better adoption of the whole system from your staff.

Hosting from CivicPlus last year was generally $600 per month before they went to their bundled pricing. That is a steep fee that still didn’t include all of their available modules. For example, you would have to spend another $100 per month AND a $1500 setup fee if you wanted their request tracking system.  A request tracking system is a VERY desirable system because it can be used to track complaints from citizens.  Our system includes a better request tracking system at no additional cost, a mass email newsletter system, and a real Intranet system for $150 per month.  That is a savings of $6600 per year!  For a better system!   It obviously isn’t all about price, so you should test both systems to see what is better for your city.

A municipality that recently came to us to move away from CivicPlus cited that the number one reason was the fact that they were getting nickeled and dimed with hourly billing. The city (that I can’t name) was quoted $80 PER IMAGE to change some photos in the website. If the city changed just TWO PHOTOS in their website, they would have paid more than we charge for a whole month of municipal website hosting. Hourly design rates from Civic Logic CMS are billed in 1/4 increments at about $100 per hour. Since our customers can change most images on their own with our CMS, most of those invoices can be avoided, saving you a ton of money.

If you paid for a CivicPlus website, and you are tired of overpaying for your monthly fees, we can help.   Generally speaking, we can move a CivicPlus website to our CMS, Intranet, Newsletter, Request Tracking, and even our Project Management Module in a matter of two weeks.   The cost to move your site would be very low, and you would recoup that fee in a matter of a couple of months because our hosting fees are so much less than CivicPlus.  Your design files would also remain intact, so you wouldn’t have to pay for a new design.

Contact Me at 888-432-7965 x100 if you have any questions.   If you are looking to have a new website for your municipality, or if you are interested in moving away from an expensive CivicPlus solution, you can get a quote from us online using our free online quote form.

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