As so many organizations are discovering, a Web site can become an
integral part of their communications programs.
- Businesses reach potential buyers around the clock, query them on
their product preferences, and provide technical support. They
reduce print distribution costs and support remote work teams with
online documentation and marketing materials. They recruit new
employees and study their competitors.
- Non-profits distribute advocacy materials, recruit volunteers,
collaborate with distant peers, search for funding opportunities
and create specialized archives of electronic materials to support
- Government agencies deliver public information, often
with the added value of special search capabilities, graphical
information systems or other services.
- Educational institutions recruit students, keep in touch with alumni
and facilitate collaboration among faculty, students and remote
researchers. Many offer distance education courses, often with
- Hospitals and health care facilities promote their services, answer
consumer health questions, provide telemedicine consultation with
distant specialists and enhance staff development.
- Communities provide non-partisan political information, online
debates between candidates, library information, social service
information, license applications and electronic town hall
communications among its citizens.
These and many other uses point to a clear and critical first question
when planning a Web site: What do you or your organization hope to
gain? Remember that if you don't know where you're going, you'll
probably end up somewhere else. Before undertaking the project, ask:
What tangible benefits do you expect or require from your Web site? How
will you assess its success once it's available on the Internet? What
audience would you most like to reach and what will be the goal of your
Web presentation? What will you offer on the site that will attract
people to it and encourage their return?
Examine your current information and communications flows. Don't just
look at the Web as another place to advertise or a different way to
distribute product brochures. Ask instead how you can improve
communication inside and outside your group or organization to all of
the people you interact with including customers, potential customers,
press, partners, stakeholders and employees.
Who will be using your Web site and why? Is it an
marketing tool? Will you also conduct
commerce? Is your site a vehicle for
publishing, or are you planning to cover a broad range of
In an area as fast-paced as telecommunications, are you
planning for the future?
In addition to answering these questions, you must be sure to
- the skills and knowledge present in your organization.
- the total costs involved: server, access provider,
software, phone company, technical support, equipment upgrades
- the true cost in time it will take to regularly update and
maintain your site.
- how it will coordinate and integrate with your other communications
vehicles, such as advertising and public relations.
- the flexibility and preparedness of your organization for new
communication patterns that Internet access or a
Web site may bring, both positive and negative.
A good Web site depends a lot upon individual goals.
server and access considerations,
design considerations and
use of vendors
will all grow out of your strategic goals and your
limitations on budget and available resources. For an organization
contemplating a sophisticated Web site, these can be complicated issues.
The following sources can help:
Back to Creating a Web Presence
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