Fifty years ago, the functional ties which bound most American communities relied heavily upon the U.S. Postal Service, Ma Bell and a healthy dose of personal engagement. For generations, that’s how information traveled, relationships were maintained and business conducted.
All that changed with the advent of the Digital Age, of course. In recent decades, our lives have incrementally and irrevocably evolved from a universe based on face-to-face transactions to one in which connectedness has become a function of clattering keyboards. We depend on the Internet to shop, learn, entertain and influence others — all from the comfort of our living rooms.
But some things never change, and even in cyberspace first impressions are important. Successful businesses for years have understood the need for an online presence that increases visibility, delivers a competitive advantage, legitimizes products and services, and engages customers, partners and stakeholders. Developing an online brand, and periodically refreshing that brand, is no longer a novelty. It’s essential. And that involves putting one’s best foot forward.
That’s why the Town of Foxboro should be applauded for taking a long-overdue step earlier this month and soft-launching a new website. Though still very much a work in progress, the inviting design and upgraded technology represent a significant improvement over its more rudimentary predecessor, which had all of the functional trappings of your father’s Oldsmobile with none of the charm. In addition to enhanced access to mobile and other hand-held devices, email and social media interaction, the new website is also compatible with emerging tools like screen readers, magnifiers and translators — or so we’re told — and should help expand opportunities for both online payments and permitting.
For those who frequented the old portal, navigating the new website can be a bit bewildering, at least at first. But that’s to be expected as users become acclimated to the new format. Meanwhile administrators are continuing to refine the site — adding links, tweaking content and providing access to archival material for boards and committees. Feedback is welcomed by using the “Contact Us” menu. Let them know what you think.
As a community, Foxboro has always taken pride in its appearance — the town’s playing fields, public buildings, common areas and especially the Common. Collectively, these familiar icons present a unique face of Foxboro while also reinforcing the community’s rich traditions and storied past. The town’s new website evokes that same pride by presenting an attractive, approachable image for outsiders who might otherwise never step foot in Foxboro.
There’s no such thing as second chances when it comes to making a first impression — and judging from the town’s new website, Foxboro’s impression will remain both positive and long-lasting.