Small things behind a great website
It is nice to do great work, but important to share the good work so that people can know about it and the success finds its avenue for further replication,” said my boss long ago.
Appropriate communication is very important for effective mobilization of resources, building awareness and replication of successful initiatives.
When it comes to communication, website has been the most effective means of communication due to its reach and accessibility. It represents the organization on the Internet and by virtue of its wide accessibility it makes an organisation global.
First and foremost thing when it comes to website is that you do not know who is going to view your website. S/he may be a potential donor, a job seeker or any other web user redirected from a search engine looking for something else. Therefore, it is important to keep the language simple, universal and free from domain specific jargons. This needs to be applied for the home page and immediate subsequent pages such as “About Us”, “Focus Area”, “The Team” etc.
Another important thing is to communicate the programme area and institutional programme vision in addition to core strengths. This will help people understand the organization. It is also important to have a clear distinction between programme areas and projects. Projects may fall under more than one programme area; but having a defined programme area is always useful not only from an external perspective, but from an internal one too.
Gone are the days when websites used to have a top and left navigation bar resembling the site-map that used to link user to the programme areas, projects and other information. Intuitive design is the trend of the time, where the most important things are depicted on the home page and option to collaborate using social media are up-front. Good optimized photo brings its obvious value in putting institutional perspectives in place.
It is often seen that the email ID(s) given on the website is not maintained well, and in many organizations, it is checked only once in a week or a month. It is crucial to manage and maintain this account with care. Having it redirected to admin or communication in-charge can be useful from an operational angle. Also, spam-cleaning the account in regular interval is necessary otherwise you will realize after some time that 90% emails received are spams.
The website is the online presence of the organization on the web so the design and content need to be with the same spirit. If the organization is into research, then it would be good to have some research papers uploaded on the website. If it is an advocacy organisation, people by default will look for a campaign. Remember, a website is not merely a couple of pages on the web – It is your organization on the web.
Many a times, it is difficult to find the mailing (postal) address in a very well designed website. Very often, it is also found at the bottom in small font, in “About Us” page or in “Media and Press” sections. It is recommended to have a “Contact Us” link up-front with other navigation items. It is better not assume for others particularly the web users who are not known to you.
Social networking and collaboration is used in left, right and centre in all possible places. While the power and value proposition of social channel can’t be ignored, the balanced use is expected on a website. Slideshare may be used to host presentations, You Tube for videos and social channels such as Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter may be used for large scale communication and engagement. Placing your office address in Google map can be very helpful, and it is also instrumental in web promotion.
“The Team” page is quite useful for people visiting the website. For external users, it is helpful in knowing more about the organization by understandings people and their strength. Having photographs of the team members can be very useful. In case you have the team page, keep the page updated after every employee joining and leaving the organization.
Be careful when the website is migrated to new platform/ Content Management System/ Hosting. This is the time when maximum content is lost and de-linked, which is quite counterproductive. Having an external review of the website is very useful and should be done after a regular interval.
Once you have a website and you see it every day, you can miss to present the most obvious things. After all, the website is meant for people who are outside the organisation and the whole world is competing to get a pie of their valuable time.