Last Wednesday I wrote about how organisations can lack capacity in four dimensions. Low capacity in one dimension might be offset by high capacity in the others but equally low capacity in one might inhibit an otherwise healthy organisation.
Today I shall review the four dimensions and show how organisational capacity can enhance or break a website.
With money you can pay someone to look after your site. However, plenty of money does not guarantee a good website. That depends on the other three dimensions.
If you can afford to pay someone to do the work it is worth asking whether this is the best use of resources. It will depend upon the purpose of the website. So, if it is primarily about sharing well-defined information, one person may be able to maintain it. However, if you want social interaction, for example, a team or whole organisation approach may be better.
Websites are not improved by throwing money at them. They are best when they a planned with care. Don’t do what one of my customers did and run the website by issuing edicts from on high to a sole worker. A good website is best designed through open conversations based on accurate information about the organisation.
Lack of finance is not necessarily a problem. If you cannot afford professional help, then you will sacrifice quality or it will take longer. A simple site with a blog facility might be all you need to start. A few people on a casual basis may be able to figure out what they need to do to progress the site. When you have money you may have a better appreciation of how to spend it.
People are essential to website development and maintenance. If you are clear about the purpose of your site and know the contributions staff, members and others can offer, it should be possible to match people to specific tasks.
Professional assistance will save you time and well-managed can help you develop an effective site fast. Small expenditure, if money is tight, on premium services with good support can bring expertise closer to your site at relatively little cost.
Paid staff can with training maintain your website and maybe help develop it. Volunteers, who may be Trustees or helpers, can develop and maintain a site.
And don’t forget your customers, clients or visitors to the site. There are many ways in which they can contribute, eg through comments, testimonials or as guest bloggers.
Being pro-active finding people who are willing and able to help out is possible where there may be people who are willing to give their time to the cause.
Time is a real constraint, especially for voluntary organisations with no paid staff. Looking after a significant website these days can be equivalent to a full-time job.
I have written about site maintenance and in these posts I show there is more to it than marshalling content.
One solution is to pay someone to look after the site, so volunteers can focus on content, confident their site will rarely crash and someone will rescue it if it does. Many site designers and consultants offer a low-cost site maintenance service. You should own the site and pay the host, which means you can change your maintenance service if you are not happy with it.
The key is to develop a routine for work on the site and sticking to it. This might be a few hours a week or daily activity and each person should agree a role and work out how they are going to do it. Everyone should be alert to potential problems and know what to do if they encounter one. Occasional meetings of all those who work on the site, help you review your routine and bring new ideas and people on board.
Knowledge and Understanding
Whilst knowledge and understanding of how the site works may be important, it is not essential that everyone working on the site has in-depth knowledge.
It is important though that the organisation is in command of knowledge and understanding of the site’s purpose and content. Good content will draw traffic to the site and so help your organisation achieve its goals. But if you are not clear about purpose, then visitors to the site will not know how to interpret the site or respond to your offer.
Whether your site is simply information about your organisation’s activities or offers a valuable information service, accuracy is important. If your site advertises events for members, it is still possible to mis-type dates, times and venues. So, you may find some provision for proof reading is important, even for a simple site. The good news is mistakes can be quickly changed, although you don’t know how many have seen the inaccurate information.
If you provide information where accuracy is important, eg legal or medical advice, you may need to take further precautions. Many organisations use a disclaimer that the site is for guidance only and the visitor should take professional advice before committing to a course of action. Even if you have professionals working on the site who are confident the information provided is accurate, you still cannot be responsible for how a visitor might interpret the information they read.
Websites provide knowledge and depend upon the visitor to provide understanding. What you can do is provide guidance so the visitor is shown how to use the information they glean from the site. Some organisations offer one-to-one support, so visitors can make contact and discuss their issue with someone who understands it. This type of consultancy or coaching can be charged at premium rates although many organisations offer a range of support packages to meet a range of pockets.
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