Important to many clients is the notion that their website should be built quickly, efficiently, and take into account as many future trends as possible. Yet most of these projects take place in a larger context. Understanding this context and placing the website within it is what we would refer to as strategy. And unfortunately, many of the projects that we get involved in don’t have a proper strategy, but we see the value of strategy.
Sometimes, clients will engage us to develop a website as a tactical response to a problem. For many clients, they have not updated or worked on their website for many years and it has become an embarrassment and probably has not been able to function properly for some time. So naturally, clients come with an expectation that they can refresh their website and take advantage of current trends. But the issue of strategy arises very quickly when clients don’t realize that the goals and objectives that they may have had originally for the website probably don’t make sense in light of current trends. For example, many websites are created as a method of sharing information to any potential member, constituent or other potential client. Today, this “Web 1.0” informational brochure website no longer serves a purpose in today’s web ecology.Today, websites are much more about creating a conversation and engaging with people online. This engagement, typically through a Web 2.0 methodology, involves allowing visitors to the website to either leave comments, interact with, or otherwise participate on the online properties. This notion is a tremendously different approach to website design than many clients are used to. While the payoff is that the website can deliver a much higher level of satisfaction to website visitors and organization staff if done properly, it involves a lot more staff time and resourcing from the organization to support a Web 2.0 website. In order to properly ensure that this doesn’t happen to your organization, here’s a few tips.Always do your homework – make sure that you have done the work required to truly understand what’s needed online. This means you have interviewed other departments and tried to get everyone’s input. This means really breaking down any silos and reaching out.Web 2.0 is a dialogue – The clients that have been successful at building a web presence actively engage with members online as much as members engage with them. From this point of view, many organizations woefully under-resource what’s required to do this well. Unfortunately, this results in their website being less successful than hoped for. Make sure you budget appropriately.Write it down - A written strategy document is really key because it will provide the continuous standard for what you are looking for. It will still be a living document, as it will need to change as your website grows, but will be a great roadmap for the future.With some of those tips, you can get started on seeing the value of strategy. Remember that well thought out strategies that engage users online have a better opportunity to excite, engage and motivate users, but do require additional resourcing and support from the organization.