Can We Clone It? The Wilton Website

Can we Clone It?

Jackie KahleIf you haven’t checked out Wilton’s web site lately, it is worth a look. From experience, I know how easy it is to use. It has been thoughtfully constructed in an intuitive manner by volunteer designer and web master, Jackie Kahle, meaning that even a luddite-prone computer novice like me can maneuver through it without a hitch.  And it’s not your normal small-town web site. It has far more than local government information, which is all that many towns offer. Local residents can find all the information needed for both one-time and every day uses. What makes it unique is its “outward” focus for townies and visitors alike to use who may want to research town history, open a business, visit a local shop, purchase a house or just take a hike in a local forest. People visiting the site will also encounter articles by guest writers detailing hidden places, interesting people and local businesses as part of its format. It is not a secret that Wilton’s web site is the envy of town managers throughout the Monadnock Region, and many would like to clone it.

It’s also the closest thing Wilton has to a town news source. Webmaster Jackie takes pride in keeping people informed about what’s happening in Wilton.  The recent primary is a good example.  She proactively wrote the article on the primary to keep people informed and to make voting an easy process for everyone.

Home PageBy keeping an “open line” to all local community resources for information, the site offers a comprehensive community calendar that lists all events from all the various organizations in town. Jackie explained, “I have no one telling me what to post. I just try to keep up with town events and things people should know and then put them on the site. We also have people like Jeff Stone who helps with the postings, plus some local organizations who have people adept enough to enter their own updated information.”

One of the things Jackie is adamant about is quality control of the site.  She continuously looks for dead links and changes that impact a user’s experience. Other sites that list town restaurants or businesses usually never update their information.  Out-of-date information can remain for years.  She knows that what’s on the Wilton site must be accurate to be useful. She also insists that site users follow the town’s style guides with its branding and design established by graphic designer Kat Tighe. All those who enter information onto the site are trained in good design practices so the site remains appealing.  These are all things town officials have no time for nor experience doing, but became possible when Jackie stepped in as a volunteer.

I wanted to know how Wilton was so fortunate to have such an informative and useful web site.  I learned that it was all because in 2016-1017 the town’s desire for a new site coincided with the formation of the Economic Development team.  Attracting visitors and businesses to Wilton was one of the primary focuses of Eco Dev and it was clear the then current site offered nothing in this vein. A new web platform was chosen in early 2018, after a year-long process. At the same time a web site development team was established in August with the mandate to get things up and running by December. The team beat that deadline by going on-line November 12th.

Although Jackie’s role was to only be in charge of the Visitors and Business sections, she knew from past on-the-job experience the importance of a clean and easy to use Home Page with easy access to all things people may want or need without being overly confusing and busy. Her mantra was “If everything’s on the home page, then nothing’s on the home page.”

Statistics prove the value of the site. Eighty-eight percent of those replying to a survey said the new site was far superior to the old one through ease of use, content, and visual appeal. During the first year there were 32,000 unique visitors and by 2022 that rose to 51,000 and 55% of those views were from out of town.

And the seasonally changing photos illustrate Wilton in a most appealing manner. This, too, has happened under her leadership. People should know that the site always welcomes new photos from residents.

So you ask, “What will happen when Jackie decides to retire as Webmaster?” She has an answer, “I wrote a two-page, in depth, description of all I do to maintain the site. I hope it will be useful in the future.” And she’s willing to share it with anyone else who may be interested in establishing a comparable web site.

So maybe there is a way to clone this site.  If you want to check it out, just go to


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