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New Jersey’s Best Municipal Websites – Press Release

Thursday, March 21, 2013


PATRICK MURRAY: 732-263-5858 (office) | 732-979-6769 (cell) |

KATHRYN KLOBY: 732-263-5892 (office) |

West Long Branch, NJ – The Monmouth University Polling Institute and Graduate Program in Public Policy announced the results of their New Jersey E-Government Municipal Website Evaluation today.  The project assessed 540 municipal websites in New Jersey for both content and ease of use.

The top municipal website according to the evaluation is Middletown Township in Monmouth County.  This website scored highest on combined content availability and ease of use.  The top ten evaluated websites are:

1.   Middletown Township (Monmouth)

2.   Franklin Lakes Borough (Bergen)

3.   West Windsor Township (Mercer)

4.   Princeton Township (Mercer)*

5.   Robbinsville Township (Mercer)

6.   Randolph Township (Morris)

7.   North Brunswick Township (Middlesex)

8.   Lawrence Township (Mercer)

9.   Old Bridge Township (Middlesex)

10. Fort Lee Borough (Bergen)

*  Evaluation conducted prior to the Princeton merger

These municipalities and other top performers in specific categories will be recognized at an awards ceremony and seminar on best practices in municipal website design at Monmouth University on Thursday, March 21 st  at 6:30 pm.  The event is free and open to the media and the public.

“Municipal websites can be critical tools to inform and engage the public while creating efficiencies in the provision of public services.  Efforts to incorporate technology into public sector service delivery and public interaction need to be supported in order to promote best practices statewide,” said Kathryn Kloby, director of the Monmouth University Graduate Program in Public Policy.

The study found that nearly all municipal websites in New Jersey provide the names of council members (98%), mayor (97%), and town clerk (94%), as well as the municipal hall address (96%).  About two-thirds of town websites provide an email link or message function to directly reach the clerk (66%), mayor (61%), or council members (58%).  Just under half provide department emails (48%).  However, if a constituent does not know which department should be contacted, only 20% of websites provide a general email address to reach town hall.

It is worth noting that the coding team could not clearly locate the municipal budget on 15% of the websites, which is a state statutory requirement.  At the other end of the spectrum, content that is unlikely to be provided on municipal websites are video recordings of city council meetings (6%), crime statistics (3%), and online pet licensing (1%).

“Websites are probably the single most important tool for citizens to find local information. According to a poll we conducted in 2011, Garden State residents are far more likely to visit a municipal website than to call or write a town official,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The project also evaluated a website’s ease of use based on the average time it took to find four key pieces of information on each website.  Overall, locating permit information took an average of 31 seconds to locate.  Information about the mayor and the municipal budget each took about 35 seconds to find.  Information about trash pick-up took the longest, 61 seconds on average.

The amount of content available on a municipal website correlates significantly to the size of the town.  In other words, the larger the town, the more content the website is likely to provide.  About three-quarters (74%) of websites for municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more include at least half of the 86 content items used in the evaluation.  That declines to 64% among towns with populations between 5,000 and 10,000.  There is a significant drop off to 38% of towns with populations between 2,500 and 5,000 who have at least half of the evaluated items on their websites, and a further drop to just 23% of towns with fewer than 2,500 people.

There is no clear relationship, though, for the ease of use component of the study.  The Ease of Use score does appear to improve slightly among towns with larger populations, but it drops off at the top category of 25,000 residents or more.

Municipal spending appears to have limited impact on website quality.  In fact, there seems to be a bell-shaped relationship between per capita spending and website content.  Specifically, for towns whose municipal budget equates to between $750 and $2,000 per resident the average Content Score ranges along a narrow band from 35.0 to 35.7.  This score is lower, though, for towns at either end of the per capita spending continuum, including those that spend over $2,000 per resident (32.5) and those that spend less than $750 per resident (31.3).

The evaluation also found that websites designed by third-party vendors with multiple clients tend to perform better than those which are designed by single-client designers (or volunteers) or by municipal staff.  The average Content Score for multiple-client vendor sites is 37.6 compared to 31.1 for other third-party designers and 33.9 for municipal staff designed sites.  The Ease of Use Score is also higher for multiple-client vendor sites (41.4) than it is for other third-party designers (38.5) and municipal staff designed sites (37.5).

Methodology:  The project evaluated each website for the inclusion of 86 separate content items in four categories: information for citizens, citizen interaction, online government services, and social networking.   The research team also assessed each municipal website for “ease of use” in finding four key pieces of information: mayor’s or mayor-equivalent’s contact information, building permit form or information, municipal budget, and trash/recycling information.     Ease of use was determined by the amount of time it took to locate each piece of information on the website.  Initial content scoring was done from March to June 2012 and ease of use evaluations were conducted from July to September 2012.  More information on the study methodology can be found in the full report.

The full report New Jersey E-Government: Best Practices for Municipal Websites  can be found at  The complete list of municipal rankings and scores can be found in the full report.

2013 New Jersey E-Government Award Recipients

1 Monmouth Middletown Township
2 Bergen Franklin Lakes Borough
3 Mercer West Windsor Township
4 Mercer Princeton Township*
5 Mercer Robbinsville Township
6 Morris Randolph Township
7 Middlesex North Brunswick Township
8 Mercer Lawrence Township
9 Middlesex Old Bridge Township
10 Bergen Fort Lee Borough
11 Middlesex South Brunswick Township
12 Bergen Englewood City
13 Morris Washington Township
14 Morris Mendham Township
15 Camden Cherry Hill Township
16 Morris Roxbury Township
17 Middlesex Sayreville Borough
18 Bergen Glen Rock Borough
19 Essex Montclair Township
20 Bergen Bergenfield Borough
21 Gloucester Woodbury City
22 Monmouth Red Bank Borough
23 Essex Livingston Township
24 Gloucester Woodbury Heights Borough
25 Camden Magnolia Borough

*  Note: study was conducted before the Princeton municipal merger.

The following municipalities are recognized for their performance in specific areas:

[Note:  Must be among top 1/5 th  overall to qualify.]
18 Bergen Glen Rock Borough
89 Monmouth Manasquan Borough
105 Monmouth West Long Branch Borough
58 Bergen Dumont Borough
63 Bergen Oradell Borough
7 Middlesex North Brunswick Township
64 Bergen Demarest Borough
1 Monmouth Middletown Township
25 Camden Magnolia Borough
36 Camden Lindenwold Borough
42 Burlington Bordentown Township
[Note:  Must be among top 1/5 th  overall to qualify.]
15 Camden Cherry Hill Township
76 Bergen Emerson Borough
1 Monmouth Middletown Township
8 Mercer Lawrence Township
32 Mercer Trenton City
3 Mercer West Windsor Township
6 Morris Randolph Township
2 Bergen Franklin Lakes Borough
30 Essex Fairfield Township
54 Camden Winslow Township
[Note:  Must be among top 1/5 th  overall to qualify.]
32 Mercer Trenton City
34 Atlantic Egg Harbor Township
27 Bergen Washington Township
33 Gloucester Washington Township
44 Middlesex Metuchen Borough
53 Burlington Mount Holly Township
51 Gloucester Monroe Township

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs