With access to content management systems with increasing functionality, content is your main preoccupation. These days it is relatively straightforward to install any function into your website. So, content is more important. How do you set things up to focus on content? A well-designed website will minimise the need for site maintenance.
I finished a sequence a few weeks ago about how to work with a designer or consultant to set up a WordPress site. You can do it yourself and there are plenty of how-to-do-it sites around. However, planning the purpose of your site and how best to put it together may be where you need consultancy support. Constructing a site that doesn’t work for you by doing the tasks you need doing with minimal maintenance, can result in wasted time and lost opportunities.
… for Groups Planning a Site
Many voluntary groups don’t have members with the time or knowledge to set up a site on their own. They may be able to add content to a site and so pursue their aims through their site but they need help to get started.
This is why web consultancy is a better bet than design for many voluntary groups. Whilst groups may think they need help with the technical side, in fact the main thing they need is help with their site maintenance and development systems. They need to start with a site that supports their current aims and has potential to develop as the group’s needs evolve. Getting this right from the outset is a major advantage.
… for Groups with a Site
Website owners need to be clear about what their site is for and focus on how to meet their aims. A small group with limited budget may need help in building on what for them has been a massive investment. They’ve paid a designer or consultant for help setting up their site. Now they are seeking ways they can keep on top of their website’s demands. They need to find ways to do this that are not prohibitively expensive or time-consuming. If the site is well-designed from the outset, that is an advantage. If the site design works against the group’s aims then the site needs to be re-designed.
Often people have ideas about site maintenance that are inappropriate for their group. For example, many believe a blog needs to be updated regularly. This might mean weekly or even daily! This is true where you want your site to be found by search engines in a competitive market but not necessary for many voluntary groups.
Voluntary groups have a local market and so their website might have a two-fold modest aim of keeping their members up-to-date and informing locals of what they do. Often they have no competitors because they’re the only group doing their thing in their area.
So long as the group is active and remembers to post about its activities, they might not need to add much more on the site.
A client asked me for a static site. They meant a no-maintenance site and I had to ask them to think very carefully about this. Such sites have limited use. The main use is as a brochure site, where you have a business card that refers the recipient to a site that acts as a paper brochure would.
This might work for an individual or group that offers a service that doesn’t change much and handles most of its publicity offline. But even then it is better to have basic functionality, such as a blog. No-one knows how their work will change in the future. A brochure site that can grow a blog sometime in the future has to be a better investment.
If your group is active it needs more than a brochure site. The question is not whether you have an active site but how to keep it active with limited resources.