Many of you might know me as a drupal a guy. A guy who builds websites. I'm a guy who built a website for my wedding before sending out a single save the date. I'm a guy who owns more domains that I care to admit. I'm a website guy, and I'm here telling you you don't need a website?
Not exactly. You don't only need a website, and you might not need the website you think you need, or your board thinks you need, or your executive director thinks you need. You certainly don't need a website before you have a web strategy. The strategy comes first. You need to know what you are trying to accomplish on the web (not on a website, on THE WEB) before you can go about building a website.
If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to here it... we can all be pretty sure that it does make a sound. But if a website exists on the internet, and no one visits it... can it really have an impact? Many shapes and forms: Brochure ware Blog Blog with comments Ecommerce and donations Directories Resources Wikis Online communities Discussion Boards Media Sharing News....
Just because you put up a website, people are not going to beat a path to your door. Social networking, micro blogging, sexy design, none of that is going to cut it alone. Your web strategy MAY bring people to your website. And it MAY keep them coming back, but your website alone will not. I'm sure everyone in this room knows a story of an organization or company that built a fancy website that underperformed their expectations.
before you can determine whether you need a website, you need to develop a larger web strategy. that encompasses online communications, other services like twitter, facebook, ning, youtube. Vision Strategy Implementation
Your organization -- hopefully -- has a vision. That might be a vision for how the world should be, environmental conservation, human rights, education or healthcare access. That is a must. You can, and should, also have a vision for what your organization will do on the web.
Is your web vision to inform the public about your cause? Engage your audience in a dialogue? Enable your audience to take action? Maybe your vision is to move your audience along that conversion funnel: Inform -> Engage -> enable.
The thing about a strategy is that is can exist without being implemented. A strategy can be used to make decisions about what to do in different situations. A web strategy can guide the decisions you make about the tools you use on the internet, be they your website, an email list, a social network or media site like facebook or twitter. When people in your organization are calmering for you to jump on the new latest and greatest wizbang service, you can consult your web strategy and see if the new tool fits.
Don't try to be a psychic! Far too many people, and organizations, jump in to the web process without doing enough research about their audience. They try to predict how people will engage with them online, rather than actually conducting research. Research is a scary word, but it doesn't have to be. Find some of your target audience, ask them some questions -- that's research!
You need to figure out who your target audience is. Find real people, and write up their stories. What are their names Where do they work Do they have kids How do they spend their time What do they use the web for?
What does your audience want? Really, what need of theirs is your website going to satisfy. This is important. Too often when building a website you build it for YOU, not your intended audience.
Where does your target audience spend its time online? If they are on twitter, or facebook, or youtube, MEET THEM THERE. Don't expect they are going to abandon their haunts and just show up on your site. Maybe you don't need a big site if you can post news and events on facebook and that is where your audience spends most of its time?
Where strategy is about the what -- what you want to accomplish in service of your vision, Implementation is about the how. How are you going to get it done. In otherwords, the nuts and bolts. Just as a variety of nuts and bolts can fasten two things together, there may be many ways to implement your web strategy.
A website may be one of them, a hosted blog could be another, and a really great facebook page could be a third. All could also work together in a multifaceted web strategy. The great thing about the web these days is that you can try out different implementations relatively easily.
As you consider the implementation of your strategy, always consider: are you being useful? Do your efforts actually satisfy the needs of your audience? As you evaluate different tools and technologies, and plans for your website, consider trying things out, using free or cheap solutions and running tests, in other words....
You can boot strap it-- at least I think that is a boot a strap! Instead of spending months or years planning to launch the most perfect website, you can make use of free and cheap tools, trying them out and seeing what sticks. I am not advocating a scattershot approach where you run your staff around on every website and service and hope of the best. This is where your web strategy is absolutely key!
You must evaluate each tool or service against your strategy to see if plausibly fits and can help you achieve your vision. If the tool passes that test on paper, you should test it out. Set specific goals and metrics for success, and then measure against those. If something is not working, stop doing it. Try something new. There are many free and cheap tools, sites and services out there. You will certainly hear about plenty of them during this conference. Your strategy will help you evaluate which ones are worth your time and attention, and which are not. This has a lot to do with who your audience is, what your goals are, and where your audience spends its time.
"You Don't Need A Website" Ignite NTC 2010 Gregory Heller
You Don't Need A Website You Need A Web Strategy @GregoryHeller of @CivicActions
You Don't ^ Need A Website Only You ^Need A Web Strategy Also @GregoryHeller of @CivicActions
Recap <ul><li>You might need a website </li></ul><ul><li>You definitely need a web strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Don't pretend to be a psychic </li></ul><ul><li>Know your audience </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Use your strategy to make decisions </li></ul>
<ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Use your strategy to make decisions </li></ul>