In a move that could result in thousands of towns across the globe eventually inserting their city’s public data into one of many WordPress Templates, WordPress.com has launched a new service called Cities. The package is specifically aimed at municipalities that are in the market for hosted web space and requires no startup fees according to WordPress.com parent company Automattic.
There are a number of built-in features being offered in the “Cities” plan that could prove extremely useful to municipal government bodies, beginning with the easy setup process that automatically fills the new site up with pages that are normally used by any given city (such as Parks & Recreation, Law Enforcement, Property Taxes, and so forth). The only thing website administrators have to do is “fill in the blanks” from the back-end to input the data they need.
WordPress Cities Features
You might be surprised by all the free goodies that are being included in the Cities program as WordPress.com attempts to make it as attractive as possible for towns to make a change. Aside from the setup parameters with pre-made pages, the Publicize plugin will make the social media sharing process a one-click task for city/county offices that wish to get the word out on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Linkedin, and Yahoo. There is also an Events Calendar module which will pull events from a Google Calendar feed and update them on your site.
Perhaps most importantly of all, WordPress Cities will cover the costs of hosting and maintenance; allowing those in charge to focus on constituent communication rather than managing a full IT staff. Photo Galleries and External Video Embeds will be no problem, and are sure to add a significant amount of depth to the websites; not to mention the fact that front-end users will be able to subscribe to receive email updates, etc.
Monetizing The “Cities” Service
At a quick glance, there will still be plenty of basic ways for WordPress.com to monetize its new service that is being extended to government body websites. Premium Features will include a unique web address for each city – which starts at $13/year – as well as Extra Storage Space (for numerous large PDF files and other documents) that can be purchased for as low as $20 per year.
Although external video embedding can be achieved without any upgrade, some towns may wish to upload their home-grown HD videos directly without having to pull multimedia content from sites like YouTube. In this case, a $60 per year charge will be billed. Customized Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) will insert unique color palettes, fonts, and more for $30/year.
And that’s not all. By clicking on the “Learn More” call-to-action button on the official WordPress.com Cities page, potential customers can obtain information on additional paid services including Ad Free, Guided Transfer, Re-direct, and Premium Themes.
Will This Catch On?
We can already imagine a handful of municipal representatives drooling over obtaining a full package of WordPress goodies and placing their focus on generating content with a broad spectrum of capabilities. However, the entire monetization concept of Cities will likely depend on getting the information into the hands of actual decision makers; which could take time. Regardless, the new Cities package appears poised for medium-term success on the surface.
We’ll be sure to keep our eye on any developments regarding this WordPress News story and bring our readers interviews when relevant as we track the progress of Cities in upcoming months.