[Photo credit: Spaghetti and Meatballs (explore) by jshj, on Flickr]
Inclusiveness is always nice to have in any project, Web-related or otherwise. Give everybody a voice, and everybody’s happy, right?
In fact, having too many voices feeding into your website can create chaos for your users. The problem is that everybody has their own ideas about what belongs on a website, and those ideas might compete with one another. Plus, there’s only so much room on a homepage. You can’t cram everything on.
Add to this the fact that some of those people jockeying for their ideas to appear on your website know absolutely nothing about creating a manageable experience for Web visitors, and you’ve got one snarled, political plate of website spaghetti.
If you’re at a non-profit, there’s a good chance a little light bulb is going on over your head right now. You’ve been there. Too many people trying to take control of the site. Sadly, this is a problem non-profits frequently have, since many organizations are managed by committee. That might (or might not) make sense for day-to-day operations, but it never works with websites.
Nip this problem in the bud. Take these steps to make sure your Web project starts off with a clear vision and a clean outcome.
Include everybody - at the start.
Our solution is to send out a “needs assessment” at the very beginning of a project. This survey, distributed to a whole bunch of people, gives everybody a chance to say what they think is important to have on the website and makes everyone feel included.
Form a small committee.
Hand those surveys over to the core website team to scan for insights, ideas and important issues. And, of course, to sort out the muck. But importantly, this body is small, and has only one head.
Appoint a strategist.
It’s helpful that the leader of that team be uniformly concerned with the experience your website visitors have, the marketing and business message of your organization and have some idea of the way technology works. If this isn’t possible, at least choose a person humble enough to take direction from a hired Web strategy consultant. That's money well spent.