City Research Shows Website Quote About Right

OCEAN CITY – Though it’s still unclear who will win the bid to create the new town website, it got a little clearer this week what they will be bidding on.

The City Council was slated to talk about the Requests For Proposal concerning the overhaul and redesign of the technologically outdated site, but President Joe Mitrecic bumped it from the agenda due to Lloyd Martin’s absence and Mayor Rick Meehan’s late arrival.

“We feel that this is a big enough issue to need views from a full council,” Mitrecic announced at the beginning of the work session. “Anyone here for the discussion on the town website, I don’t want to waste your time, as we are going to push it back to a later meeting.”

According to the council’s agenda packet and a memo sent from Tourism Director Mike Noah, a list of seven potential “model” websites have been chosen by members of the town’s Chamber of Commerce, Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association and Tourism Commission that bidders will evaluate and give the town a quote on what they could design the site for.

Based on the council’s recommendation in a Nov. 12 meeting, and in lieu of town advertising company MGH’s $178,000 redesign proposal of the website, the bid for the town website will be determined by companies looking at a model website.

A list of 25 potential sites was trimmed down to seven that will eventually be presented before the council for discussion and some, as noted in the memo from Noah, are direct competitors of Ocean City.

The top seven that will be considered for the “model website” are Annapolis, Virginia Beach, Daytona Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Bermuda, Williamsburg, Va., and Charleston, S.C. All reportedly include aspects that the town wanted in a website, but Noah explained that there was not one obvious frontrunner.

“It has been difficult to identify a model website that has all the suggested components as utilized by our stakeholders. Each and every website investigated is unique and has been custom built for their needs. None fully represents all the elements that we need for our website redesign,” said Noah’s memo said.

Further research was done to find out how much was spent on these sites, and how much it could potentially cost Ocean City to get the site that officials want or need and comparing it to MGH’s $178,000 offer.

Though the $178,000 figure seems outrageous to the majority of people, Noah’s team found that it was middle of the road and that one of the “model websites” spent $130,000 on upgrades and still didn’t get all that was wanted.

The memo went on to say, “The comments from these destinations as to how their website was developed range from a developmental cost from $400,000 to a low of $50,000, the low end being a band-aid approach of an existing website. One of Ocean City’s nearby competitors suggested that the re-development of Ocean City’s website from wireframe content management and database and final production would probably cost $200,000.”

Based on that proposed figure, the $178,000 proposal looks like a slight bargain although it wasn’t cited which competitor gave that price quote. What was interesting and seems to give MGH a bit of an edge in this process, is that “the majority of sites investigated utilized either their ad agency or a division of their ad agency to maintain, develop and host their website,” said Noah.

Either way, the council got what they asked for, which is a list of websites for bidders to choose from, despite the implications that none of those sites have everything the town is looking for in a website.