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Reston Association Website Gets $100K New Look

by Karen Goff — March 17, 2015 at 9:30 am 1,195 69 Comments

New Reston Association website

Reston Association unveiled a new website design over the weekend.

The site features modern new features and easy-to-read design, making it more consumer friendly for RA members to do such things as search for RA information, pay assessments, buy pool passes, and sign up for camp. It also links to many other community resources, which will make it hub for newcomers to Reston.

RA spokeswoman Kirsten Carr said the new site is “the culmination of a year-long process that included both outside design consultation and internal staff planning.”

RA hired Reingold, a communications and marketing firm, in 2013 to assist RA with an overall communications strategic plan design, which included a website renovation, said Carr.

The board approved $100,000 in the 2014 budget to redesign to meet the findings of the strategic plan process and community interviews, she said.

  • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

    Expensive looking? No, its just plain expensive. They spent 100K plus a year of staff time. Unreal. Big spenders spend. What do we expect?

  • Adrian Havill

    Unreal. $100,000? Really? The Reston Runners website–for example–was done for free, by volunteers, and it is the equal (maybe better) and just as informative as RA’s. http://www.restonrunners.org/
    Seriously, RA? All these consultant fees are adding up. I remember a public arts project where they flew in consultants from Missouri to advise them and were charged $65,000 when a group of Reston artists could have done so much better for next to nothing. This is why RA has such a terrible reputation and probably why eighty percent don’t even vote when there’s an election.

    • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

      I can’t believe we agree on something! Progress? At any rate, yes this is just an example of the waste. I am not even sure a “communications staff” is needed. How many are on this staff? What are their salaries? I mean really? How much communication do we really need? Outside consultants and studies to tell me how to sign up for camp or swim lessons? Its ridiculous. What do all of you who are running for the board think of this 100K plus expenditure?

    • JCSuperstar

      No offense…the Reston Runners website appears to be somewhat informative…but looks god awful, renders horribly on my phone. No ecommerce, that I can find. And it’s static, only one way with no interaction… I love it when the “experts” come out of the woodwork — it’s my source of entertainment here. Waiting for the infamous John Farrell to post here soon.

      • Adrian Havill

        Your opinion. It is interactive. Look again. Maybe you need another phone.

        • JCSuperstar

          Adrian… I apologize. But, your site does show it was done for free, by volunteers — and that’s wonderful. I give you a lot of credit for doing what was needed.

          At the same, time, I like to call people on their jumping out of their shoes over something without getting the facts. AND then they create their own facts and treat them as reality. I suspect your better than that.

          • Adrian Havill

            Not my site. Had nothing to do with it. There are many websites in Reston and other communities that are equal to or better than RA’s Done for free. Did this website construction have competitive bidding? Or did they just pick a pitch from a pretty face?

          • JCSuperstar

            Now, you’re getting it.

            “Not my site. Had nothing to do with it…”

            and you’re looking for facts.

          • Adrian Havill

            But I am a member of RR. And I do use it. And it works fine. And RR costs me $25 a year. RA makes me pay $600 plus per year and it’s not worth the money.

          • JCSuperstar

            That’s wonderful. And you admitted you had nothing to do with the RA site and you are now asking and gathering facts about it, versus conjecture.

          • Adrian Havill

            Thank you for the condescending remarks and telling me about plans for the day.

      • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

        And Reston Runners can choose to pay for whatever it is that they can afford and that they feel is what works for them. That is a bad comparison. RA is using our money. OUR money. And would it be the end of the world if you couldn’t sign up for Senior Water Aerobics on your smart phone? Would you pay extra for that feature JC? God, (I capitalize f God) you are what is ruining Reston.

        • JCSuperstar

          As long as that’s what you think, I must be in good company.

    • RestonResident

      Sorry. I agree that it is a ton of our money for a new website, but the new RA site is 10x better than the Reston Runners website. As an IT professional, this site is very well done. Probably a little too much information and a little confusing, but it is current and reflects positively on RA.

      • Greg

        Why is confusion, after $100,000 (or, to use your language, “a ton of our money,”) is wasted, reflecting positively on anyone, let alone the buffoons at RA that wasted that money?

        Sorry, not sorry.

  • Scott H

    I find the new site difficult to find info easily. How is scrolling and looking in unstructured columns “more consumer friendly?” This new design is just the latest fad in web design. Much like the ‘contemporary’ homes and cedar shingled roofs in the woods around Reston, this will just be another failed effort and suck on resources when it has to be resigned in a few years. It’s no wonder the assessment manages to go up 5-7% annually…just ridiculous.

    • JCSuperstar

      Hey, I live in one of those homes… BTW, who came up with the idea of cedar shakes?

      • Reston Realist

        I prefer CHOCOLATE shakes!

        • JCSuperstar

          LOL

    • Mike M

      Scott, your critique hits the nail on the head. (No comment on the cedar shingles.) If a website doesn’t make it easy for you to find information for which most people would go to that website, then it is a failure. What else should a website do? You can just smell the self-absorbtion and inept overbearing oversight in this.

  • Mike M

    From everything I have learned and read about website design I would have to declare this a self-absorbed, user-scorned failure. But, hey, at least it ‘s a gold-plated failure.

    • Reston Realist

      I notice that they check with everyone EXCEPT RA members in designing this silly website.

  • Reston Realist

    Tried a number of test searches on the new RA website on financial terms (revenue, liability, depreciation), “dam lifetime”, and the always popular “recreation center.”
    Result: NO better than the pathetic old website. NOT ONE LITTLE BIT.
    (Have you folks at RA heard of Google, Bing, even Yahoo! search???)
    It may be new, and it’s certainly expensive, but it’s not better.

    • JCSuperstar

      The best test of a new customer-facing application is when it goes live.

    • JCSuperstar

      Having experienced this myself, my vendors will tell you if the documents and pages were poorly indexed (or not indexed at all) you have an uphill battle to get it squared away. Google and Bing give you the tools, but it still requires a lot of work to get the legacy content properly indexed and ready to render. Don’t go to Yahoo.

  • MJay

    When I served on my cluster board, we typically sought volunteers for certain projects–to include web design–from qualified people in the community. We always found experienced volunteers. One could only imagine that Reston has plenty of qualified web designers to assist, and plenty more qualified web designers to provide feedback/input on whatever design RA gets in order to militate against “you get what you pay for.” Did RA ask its members for help? How did RA find the designer? Who vetted it? What are their qualifications in terms of functionality, design, etc? This appears to be just another example of RA trying to pretend it is a municipal government rather than acting like the homeowner’s association that it is. This isn’t the same as contracting out for a tree pruning or trail maintenance project. If RA solicited volunteers, or even sought a local able to do the job for a significantly reduced rate, I seriously doubt we, as the members, would have to shell out $100K. Finally, I don’t pretend to be qualified in the area of web design and maintenance, but this new site does not appear to be worth $100K.

    • novatom

      Bingo, MJay. We live in the east coast “Silicon Valley” ferchrissakes. Should be so easy to find someone who, in exchange for a free annual assessment, could have put up something even better.

      • JCSuperstar

        So $642 is going to get a fully compliant environment addressing PCI, risk profiling, privacy requirements, security controls, accreditation, log/ monitoring, audit, change management and exit management capabilities. Tell me who this person is. I need to talk to them. I’ll double the offer.

        • Adrian Havill

          $642 per year for ten years might.

  • novatom

    This is the kind of website you design when you’re trying to sell something. Since when does RA need to dazzle any prospective customers?? Sheesh, what a waste.

    • JCSuperstar

      Yea…let’s keep Reston a secret. No need to make it known. Nobody here cares about our home values, were all hippy socialists.

      • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

        The low income housing and crime in the area is what could hurt our property values. Also the garbage lining the streets won’t help. A website will add no value. ZERO. Hippy socialists perhaps, but you take the cake JC. You are an expert on Economics, IT & websites, and every other subject that seems to come up, including real estate values. I didn’t want to use my real name here but you thought you were cute and clever by putting it out there. Yet you still hide behind your fake name and do nothing but “hump the legs of everyone on the RA Board”. Are you one of the board members or just an old time Reston groupie?

        • JCSuperstar

          Nope… just someone who comes here to be entertained. I don’t claim to be an expert here, but love to call out those who create, misrepresent, or avoid facts. Remember my mantra — opinions are fine, opinionated?? Well that’s where it gets fun.

  • Cluster Tycoon

    Honestly, this is 100K well spent and a far cry from the worst web page I have ever seen – the former RA web page. There appears to be only one overloaded pulldown ‘about’ but the rest looks good. I trust the backend functions are just as well thought out and functional; that is where the real difference lies.
    So really all we’re commenting on is the presentation layer, we can agree and disagree on that is fine, but the real issue here is if we can trust this portal to complete our business transactions in a secure, safe and timely manner.

    • Mike M

      With websites, the “presentation layer” is just as important if not more important than the backend functionality. If you can’t find it efficiently, the site is a failure. Most of what’s here is just information anyway. Your disdainful comment, “all we’re commenting on is the presentation layer” demonstrates the mentaility behind thousands of bad websites everywhere. We live in a time where everyone can create “a presentation layer” but few even know there are better ways to do it.

  • MJay

    Is “Together We Make Reston Great” a new tagline over the Live, Work, Play one as the new site seems to indicate? If so, the snark in me wants to ask RA how much they paid to have someone come up with that.

    • Greg

      You don’t want to know.

  • Greg

    Such a bargain! Especially when compared to Milty Matthews’ million-dollar RA website and Cate’s acres of obsolete IT apparatus housed in the RA Taj Mahal.

  • Rational Reston

    Reston’s IT decisions are horrible, the cost of the website revamp as well as the $12k for iPads.

  • John Farrell

    So Fulkerson wants to collect $1700 by charging your lender to fill out the lenders forms which charge will be passed onto you at closing. But that’s non-member revenue.

    She wants to save $6000 by dumping copies of the RA magazine in the rental office of the apartment complexes instead of mailing them to “Resident.”

    She wants to claim $9000 income for a “conference center” usage at RA headquarters that never should have been part of the lease and cost how much a year in rent.

    And she goes on and on for 90 minutes with $5k here and $2500 there.

    All of these petty anty trims and shavings in a budget of $15,000,000!!

    Meanwhile there are more RA staffers at these open houses being in each of the 4 districts than there re attending RA members.

    And we’re supposed to be impressed with $100000 spent on website redesign that took a year and still won’t let you find anything.

    And we also suppose to approve a referendum to borrow $2.6 million to buy 3 acres of parking lot and a broken down 30+ year old building.

    WTH

    • JCSuperstar

      Aaaand there he is…

    • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

      That asbestos magazine should be scrapped all together. I say asbestos because I tried to burn it in my fireplace and it would not catch fire. No one reads it or needs it. All information w/in should be on the damn website. Please tell me more about the 1700 charge for lender info needed to close? I have not heard about that?

      • John Farrell

        Staff was whining that some lender require RA to fill out the lenders questionaire. It took time so we’re going to charge for the time. Of course, the banks will pass the charge onto the borrower.

        These charges were characterized as “non-member” revenue.

        Someone else might call it chiseling new members and members who are refi’ing their house.

        All to collect $1700.

      • Reston Realist

        Yeah, but it’s SOOOOO purty why would you want to burn it??? Just frame it and hang it over the fireplace.

  • kcowing

    $100,000 to redesign an existing website? Obscene – unless you are the web contractor who got this windfall.

    • JCSuperstar

      You’re basing this factual statement on…??? It amazes me the “experts” here are able to discern so much from a 139 word article. Having been through many IT web and back-end redevelopment efforts, $100K can be high, and more times than not, rather low. But, we don’t have the necessary facts to know, do we? No enterprise, solution or system architecture, no implementation breakdown, nothing…
      So many irreverent, derisive people… but, hey, it’s a free country. Keep it going.

      • kcowing

        Why yes, I *am* an expert. I have been designing and operating websites for 20 years – and I use my real name when commenting. Others ….

        • JCSuperstar

          So, I take it you were turned down during the vendor selection process. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
          You may be right, $100K may be high, but, we don’t have any idea what that $100K was spent on, and over what time period. I’d like to learn the facts first. But then again, I think this one has been hashed out. A lot of hyperbole, and crowing at the moon by all.
          139 words has generated over 2800, and 584 page views. Reston at its best.

          • Adrian Havill

            Really? You actually counted the words?

          • JCSuperstar

            Nope… text analyzer does that, on anything… you have the app?

          • Adrian Havill

            But you still counted, no matter which method you used.

          • JCSuperstar

            Yup, it’s pretty cool. Gives facts. Think about it, just 139 words still has this group hootin’ and hollerin’. Ain’t it great.

          • Adrian Havill

            So you admit to deriding those who care. Sad.

          • JCSuperstar

            Nope, can’t admit to that.

            What I will admit to is — likely being seen as a pain in the butt to some of the irreverent, derisive people here. As I said, those who create, misrepresent, or avoid facts should know what their getting themselves into. They hide behind the “care” moniker.

            Dialogues can include opinions, and differences. But, being opinionated, sends folks running and not wanting to participate.

          • Adrian Havill

            And you hide behind a pseudonym. Wow.

          • JCSuperstar

            No, that’s so clinical. Let’s call it my stage name.

  • CV

    why on earth does it have two mobile menus, one on the left and another on the right?? Ugh.

  • LAmeetsDC

    Sweet! $100k and it crashes Chrome for iOS every time I try to load it! Great job, y’all!

  • Paul

    My company recently did a web redesign. $100k is about right if you want it done well. That’s just the market for professional web design services.

  • RichardP

    You all are playing right into Ms. Goff’s hands. She intentionally put the word “expensive” into a post about RA, and you all give her the hits she’s looking for. Expensive? Relative to what? Isn’t that editorializing, Ms. Goff? Doesn’t sound like good journalism to me. Then again, this is nothing more than a blog trying to make money off advertising that is related to the number of hits the site gets. With one inflammatory word, she used your general frustrations about RA to accomplish something she rarely accomplishes in her non-RA posts. She got you to engage without providing any context, cost comparisons to other quasi municipal websites, etc. In the world of blogging, I guess there is nothing unusual about that. But please don’t mistake Reston Now for anything other than a personal blog — filled with subtle and not so subtle opinions — seeking to sustain itself monetarily through your comments and traffic to the site that in turn creates ad revenue. You can hate on RA all you want, and draw your own conclusions about website costs, but to do it here isn’t going to do much to address your concerns. I suggest you all get involved in the process rather than add comments to a blog pretending to be an objective news site.

    • Karen Goff

      Wow. Just wow. By any standard, $100K is expensive unless you are Donald Trump. When your entire budget is $13 million, as RA’s is, which is far, far less than an actual municipality, $100K is a lot of money.

      “But please don’t mistake Reston Now for anything other than a personal blog — filled with subtle and not so subtle opinions”

      You have that 100 percent wrong. This is my full time job, for which I am paid a full time salary. My personal blogs can be found at http://karengoff.wordpress.com and http://snarkshelf.blogspot.com. When you read about my fashion choices and my parents’ slow march toward death on those you will see the difference between news site and personal blog.

      Don’t like what’s published here? Don’t read it.

    • John Farrell

      As the conduct of “open houses” makes clear, RA doesn’t want input. RA wants its members to sit through 90 minute lectures on what a good job the RA staff is doing scrounging for nickels and dimes in a $13 million budget and will brook no questions or comments that other RA members can hear.

      (All of those supposed saving will just about enough to pay for the extravagant “website to no where.”)

      RA members are only allowed to tell the RA Board and staff what a fabulous job RA is doing.

      RestonNow tells us information that RA and Fairfax County would prefer was kept secret.

      Sorry that it gets under your skin, Richard.

      Thanks Karen for letting the great unwashed get a peek at what our masters are up to.

    • Adrian Havill

      Judging from the comments by many posting here who seem to know a lot about web design, you are being outvoted by nearly everyone. Attacking the messenger is a shopworn tactic used to distract. Since you are not using your real name I’ll assume you are either a staffer with RA or an employee of Reingold.

  • JJ

    I’m a professional web designer, 20+ years in digital web design. This site is poorly done from a brand perspective, the fonts are hard to read, duel menus top of page is confusing. The photography is not engaging, reston residents probably could provide better ones than what was used. It’s a trendy responsive look but fails to provide clear paths to content and navigation. Once you do get to the sub pages, they are lifeless. This was not designed by a professional digital design agency or they put a jr. Designer on this, it’s completely embarrassing. This particular site could have been done for 10-20k by a freelancer, 100k is not out of the question but I would expect far better results. Outrageous.

  • LesAnn620

    Aaaaand, right about now I’m feeling glad that I live in town center, out of the hands of RA.

  • Michael P. McHugh

    Scott, your critique hits the nail on the head. (No comment on the cedar shingles.) If a website doesn’t make it easy for you to find information for which most people would go to that website, then it is a failure. What else should a website do? You can just smell the self-absorbtion and inept overbearing oversight in this.

  • Michael P. McHugh

    From everything I have learned, experienced, and read about website design I would have to declare this a self-absorbed, user-abusive failure. But, hey, at least it ‘s a gold-plated, self-absorbed, user-abusive failure. Reminds me of the RA in general.

  • Michael P. McHugh

    With websites, the “presentation layer” is just as important if not more important than the backend functionality. If you can’t find it efficiently, the site is a failure. Most of what’s here is just information anyway. Your disdainful comment, “all we’re commenting on is the presentation layer” demonstrates the mentaility behind thousands of bad websites everywhere. We live in a time where everyone can create “a presentation layer” but few even know there are better ways to do it.

  • Paul Clarke

    The only thing I will say there is a lot more that goes into these sites than what most people understand. We do QA testing for a lot of large and small websites (& apps) for companies including some non-profits like RA and while the content and design may seem simple, making all functions/features work across many different platforms and devices can be complex.

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