|Tips and Tools
#1: Why NOT to have
- How do you know
whether a website is a good idea for your organization?
- Why would you
- How can you
decide whether any web presence is useful for you?
- If it is
useful, how much of an investment is it worth making?
There is a trend
toward putting up web pages if only because "everyone else is doing it".
Your clients or members or stakeholders are asking for a web address, or URL.
You're being pushed toward e-mail or already have it, so the modems and Internet
Service Provider are already going to be part of your organization's
communication budget. The question is often "Why not have a website?",
as much as it is whether to have one at all.
Here are some
situations you want to avoid:
designed a home page for your website; it has your logo, address, phone and fax
numbers, and your email link. Maybe you've also put up the information in your
basic brochure. But there is no-one assigned responsibility for answering the
e-mail, and no system for keeping track of who wrote to you, what they asked
for, and when and if they got a response, much less what the response was.
the expectation that you're interested in having people communicate with you,
but you're not delivering on the implied promise.|
| You've decided
that you want to put your publications on your Internet site, so you "save
as" into HTML from your word processing package, and put them on their own
page. They don't look as pretty as they did in print, but you know your
stakeholders are most interested in the content anyway.|
| The document
may be very long, and print out over several pages, without any planning for how
pages "break". Also, once someone has started reading, they can't
find the footnotes or references, and they can't get back to where they were
before without extensive use of scrolling. You've tried to take material from
one medium and "translate" it to another medium. It doesn't work well
for the reader.|
| People are asking
you to post your publications on the World Wide Web, but you count on selling
your publications to cover the costs of their printing. So you won't provide
them, but you do suggest that people can order them on-line by sending you an
email, or by paying in advance.|
| First, the
costs of publication shrink considerably if you "publish" on the World
Wide Web, and not in print. Second, the costs of distribution also drop a lot.
Finally, if you want people to order them on the Web, you need to provide at
least an order form that they can print off and fax to you (including credit
card information, or a purchase order), or that they can print off and mail to
you with a cheque. If you sell large quantities of a publication, it may be
worth investing in a secure server to process requests and credit cards, but
these costs may be the same as printing and mailing, depending on the size of
your buying public.|
|You website is up;
in fact, it's been up for a year or two now, and you realize that it's out of
date. The "what's new" is embarrassingly old. You've found that
keeping it up-to-date as an "add-on" to someone's job isn't working
very well, and volunteers are helpful but not reliable. |
anticipated that it takes time and people to maintain a website, or money to pay
others to find the time and people. It isn't magic. It is fast, but it's not
magic. Unless you can build it into someone's job, it's not going to be
current, and will be almost useless.|
|You have a website,
but you realize that it takes a long time to open, people complain about it
being hard to find, or that it's often unavailable to them. You're relying on
free or low-cost services, and can't insist on better service. And you hate how
it looks. Even the logo has changed, and you've had to change the address
several times because your Internet Service Provider has shut down and made you
find a new provider.|
exists, but it isn't all that useful to you or your stakeholders. You hoped it
would increase your profile, make it easier for people to find you, and maybe
bring in new donations. But it's not doing any of that. Of course, you haven't
planned it so that it would achieve those goals, but now you're stuck with a
website that doesn't work, and no funds to do anything with it. |
These situations to
avoid are not fictional. They've happened in almost every organization that put
up a website, unless they waited a long time and invested serious human and
financial resources into the process.
The moral of the
story is: Be sure you have what it takes to build the website you want, and to
meet the expectations your site will create as your stakeholders find it and
start to rely on it.
information about steps non-government organizations should take before
committing themselves to a website, see the following:
None of this means
you shouldn't have a web site. It just means you need to play the why and how
carefully. We'll be bringing you further tips and tools to help you do that!
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