Websites aren’t going anywhere

White ship's anchor, stowed,

Some things we take for granted: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Pigs don’t fly. From little things, bit things grow.

But when someone says websites aren’t relevant any more, well, that’s not a statement that’s easy to swallow.

In the last few months this message has been repeated to me by three or four folk. The rise and rise and rise of social media is the main reason given: people can stay in touch and find out everything about our organisation without going to a website.

I thought I’d restate why I say community organisations still need to a well maintained, easy to use and attractive website in their online communications mix. NB the reasons don’t apply equally to everyone.

A website allows your organisation to:

  • Control what goes where. The relative weighting given to content and the structure are all decided by you. 100%. You’re not left stranded by the arbitrary decisions of a faceless multi-national corporation.
  • Make available essential, if somewhat dowdy, accountability documents, eg annual reports. These are in there rightful place, alongside any news, organisational information, etc.
  • Publish longer research, essays or other articles. Not just bon mots.
  • Add multiple ways for people to support you: sign petitions, volunteer, give stuff or donate cash. Donating isn’t only about collecting one-click gifts, it can entail things like membership, longer term APs or bequests. This information needs to be available, alongside a button or link.
  • Host dedicated areas for your constituents or network members. This could be about discussion, archives or e-learning. Private and simple are often key features.

Of course, there are times when a website does little for an organisation, except suck in time and money. I’d be the last to suggest a website is mandatory. Yet, nor would I too easily dismiss them.

In my experience, websites act as an anchor of an organisation’s online presence. Solid, dependable and even somewhat immutable. Reflected in a tightly packed few pages is information about what you do, how you’re making a difference and how people can get alongside you.

For those that care what people say after visiting an organisation’s website, not something that everyone is too bothered by, then keeping things spic and span is essential.

Is your website still a core part of your orgnisation’s communications mix, or has it been eclipsed?

Useful resource

Aspiration Tech highlight the differences between web and social using spectrums of online engagement. Get some insights into why social can achieve different things to websites.

Photo credit: Phill Lister

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5 thoughts on “Websites aren’t going anywhere

  1. Richard

    I agree with you Stephen , I have noticed that tread, new initiatives often don’t bother with a web site, rather straight to a FaceBook page. Its cheaper and perhaps easier to put up a Facebook page so I wonder if its just lazy combined with a mystical belief in the power of social media. Social media content is so temporal , difficult to express a wider story through , just one little chunk at a time and eventually those little chunks disappear down into the depths of people’s facebook walls.

    How do we get both working well together? We get a reasonable number of click throughs to our site from Facebook but not major. We have also put FB share icons on all our web site posts in the hope they will share the site out but not sure if that will work .

    Reply
    1. Stephen Blyth Post author

      All the news and views may be there, somewhere within a timeline or it’s equivalent, but as you say this doesn’t mean that it adds up to a coherent narrative. Getting a deeper understanding of what different ‘mediums’ are good for is at the core of successful online publishing. Sounds like Big Buddy is making some sense of how websites and social can achieve different things, while complementing each other.

      Reply
  2. Nick

    Facebook has become increasingly useful but I would never advise anyone to rely on it alone. A website allows you to have substance and to control your brand, and your message.

    Reply
  3. Richard

    Good point Nick. The link between the two is still the challenge. Getting people from facebook over to your site and getting people to post links to your site back on facebook.
    I suspect those links are based on small chunks of Facebook digestible content , but hey we are all experimenting with what works.

    Reply

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