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With more people gaining access to the internet every day, the web enabling of core services and business processes is becoming essential. There is a great deal of existing research covering techniques and approaches to web enablement for commercial and public sector organisations, but very little that is aimed specifically at small charities and voluntary sector organisations. Numerous studies have shown that charities often lag behind commercial organisations when it comes to their internet infrastructure and the extent of web enablement. This dissertation investigates the needs and issues which charities face, in order to define a number of key web enablement aims and objectives. Some problems are unique to the charitable sector whilst others apply to all types of organisations.
As most web applications can be accessed from anywhere in the world, globalisation is an inherent web development issue. A number of the most common issues associated with globalisation are examined and current best practice solutions suggested.
The Foundations, Fundamentals, Features and Future (F4) Framework is the outcome of the research into the situation, needs and issues faced by charitable organisations. It offers a simple but detailed framework designed specially for web enablement projects within charitable organisations. The framework is broken down into four key stages of web enablement – foundations, fundamentals, features and future possibility. Through the four layers, the framework covers key business drivers, internet access and security, error-handling techniques through to global database access and undeveloped future technologies.
The framework was developed and refined through research and work undertaken with GAP Activity Projects, a worldwide gap year charity. To demonstrate the implementation of the framework, GAP is used as a case study. A number of web and related applications are developed and evaluated including an online application system, mass mailing tools and an extranet application. The case study demonstrates a number of novel techniques that have been developed to solve some of the problems which were faced, including the use of XML as a data storage method and a unique form validation technique.
Although the evaluation of the framework shows that it meets well the objectives it set out to achieve, there are opportunities for improvement and future work. A number of future expansions possibilities are examined including the use of mobile technology and content management systems.