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Why Your Organization Needs to do an Online Audit

One World U.S. recently held a training about online strategies and tools. The training gave some really great tips for improving your presence online. One of the presenters, Alan Rosenblatt of the Internet Advocacy Center (check out their site for some great roundtable discussions if you are in DC), talked about why your organization should do an online audit and how to do one, gathered from his experience conducting online audits for other groups:

With an online audit you are basically re-evaluating your efforts to make your group visible online. Your organization needs to know where to begin. The one key thing to remember is to use the audit as a way to assess your efforts to promote your groups mission and reach your target audiences. You can also use it for budgeting purposes - you want spend money on solutions rather than just technology, so you get the best bang for the buck.

When doing an audit, Alan explained that it could be done in house, but getting a 3rd party to do it for you can have a big impact, since they will know what to ask of your staff so they can figure out what your group needs.

Alan explained what he does when he conducts an online audit:
-Interviews every staff member that has anything to do with the internet (whether it's the webmaster or someone who simply posts to the group's blog).
-He asks each person how they are using the internet and what they'd like to do with it, throwing out ideas along the way to see who they are recieved.
-He reviews the group's website, including the look and feel and any tools they have available for visitors.

Your website needs to serve the needs of the site visitors and your audience, not those of your organization. Think about who it is you are serving and what tools they would need to complete the actions you ask of them. Convey your message outright and have a link to an action right on the homepage, requiring only one click. For every click-through, you end up losing close to half of your audience. Also think about this when sending emails to your members and supporters - the less clicks the better and make sure the emails are personal, making your supporters feel personally invested.

Don't just audit your website, look at your overall online presence. Do you have any profiles on social networking sites like MySpace? Are you blogging, linking to other blogs, leaving comments on other blogs? Are you using Google ads? You have to go beyond your website and bring your campaign/message to where the people and where your audience is. The web allows you to do that easily and effectively. Think about all the ways you can do this, through podcasts, YouTube, e-newsletters, etc. Integrate this into your online audit.

Want an example of a before and after? The Council for a Livable World recently did a website overhaul. Here is their old site: http://old.clw.org/. And here is their newly improved site: http://www.clw.org/.

-Yvonne Archer

April 4, 2007 in Technology | Permalink


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Let's see if I can fix this (.pdf) link for him: Tips on Website Redesign.

Posted by: Amy at Apr 26, 2007 2:41:53 PM

correcting link for downloading the guide for a website redesign or upgrade:

Posted by: Bruce Trachtenberg at Apr 6, 2007 3:22:41 PM

One of our members just posted a handy guide to help you think through a website redesign or upgrade. It can be downloaded at: http://www.comnetwork.org/downloads/Tips%20on%20Website%20Redesign.pdf

Posted by: Bruce Trachtenberg at Apr 6, 2007 3:19:33 PM

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