When I ask people why their organisation has a website, they are often lost for words! Is it really the first time they’ve been asked? They’ve paid for it and possibly invested hours of work into it but don’t know why!
Sometimes it seems the site offers a web presence or ‘improves our image’. What does this mean? How do you know whether you’re getting your moneys worth?
Or perhaps it’s so that the public can download information. Sometimes sites accumulate pictures of meetings from long ago. It’s hard to see why anyone would spend time there, let alone visit for a second time. Take a hard look at your site and ask why any visitor might return!
I can only conclude some sites exist because someone was told they should have a website.
Websites are powerful tools and if yours isn’t working for you perhaps you shouldn’t have one. It would at least save you some money. Alternatively, the task is to get your online presence working for you.
Why do organisations have websites with no purpose? I’m sure the problem lies in the relationship between organisations and their website designers. They need to guide each other into understanding the emerging purpose of the site. At the beginning of their relationship, neither knows the purpose of the site and design should not start until they understand and agree the site’s purpose.
So, I will explore the nature of non-directive consultancy as it relates to web design. I will cover the roles of consultant (designer) and consultor (you) so that both get the most from the relationship.
A consultancy relationship might result in a range of online approaches, possibly not including a website. Various uses of social media may be all an organisation needs.
Raising finance in various ways is important for many organisations and it is important to understand the relationship between finance and the social aims of third sector organisations.
Building relationships with your visitors is essential whether or not your purpose is financial. You need a clear grasp of how you want your visitors to respond to your site and then to design your site to meet your purpose.
This category covers a sequence about websites and donations only.
An effective web presence implies a conversation between your visitor and your organisation. This may be implicit as the visitor follows a route through your site, clicking in your links and finally reaching a destination, if their interest carries them that far. Or else it may be more explicit, such as where the visitor responds to comments and debates the issues your site raises.
However you approach this conversation, you need to understand in any conversation both parties transform. Exploration of this will lead us into some interesting philosophical and spiritual by-ways because if we’re serious about our online presence, we need to appreciate its impact upon real life.
Core to this is the role of conversation as an encounter with the other. It is through developed conversation that real change happens.