The Electronic Brochure
A website is the online equivalent to a paper brochure. It is of course more sophisticated and interactive, allowing you to guide the reader through the available material. One thing to consider is who are you expecting to come to your site, and what are their needs or interests. For example a website proposing charitable aims will need to cater for some or all of the following. In each case they are seeking something different from your site.
Catering for everybody
- A potential client who is seeking a service or product
- A volunteer, either as a contributing volunteer, or as a management volunteer such as a board member or trustee
- A donor seeking to make a donation
- Social Services or NHS seeking to make a referral
- An external body wishing to make a grant
- A volunteer seeking some operational information
- Someone wishing to contact you
In each case the needs are different. The challenge is that you need to help people to locate the information they need quickly. Especially those whose attention you have not grabbed yet. You are in danger of losing them shortly after they land on your site.
Arranging the data
How you arrange the content in your site is largely down to whom you anticipate will come to your site. It is vitally important to understand this before you start to consider the organisational structure of a website.
What is your unique selling point? Why are you good at what you do? Why will you succeed more so than your competition? While charitable organisations don’t tend to think in this way, commercial organisations do. Increasingly so in the charity sector the available funding is a shrinking pot of money. Demands on the public do not bridge the gap in the shortfall. This means some organisations are going to find it tough. It is worth considering those three questions and how they would be answered. The answers will give you a clue about how to position your value propositions on your site in a compelling way.
A Guided Path
Standing back to get the bigger picture; it is worth considering how people can navigate through your brochure. Most people do not “read” web pages, they browse. The key difference is they do not read everything. They dip in and out and skip some things. Usually because the content is not relevant to their needs. By structuring nested titles and headings on a site you help people to skip through what is not relevant and what is. Also use links to guide someone to the next piece of useful information. Adopting a process like this will keep an interested user on your site.