Websites are a great medium for organizations to communicate and conduct transactions. Websites are “open for business ” 24/7/365, assuming they are well-built and hosted in a secure environment. Unfortunately, too often, people build websites for themselves, and not for their constituents who will be using the site. These websites, sometimes called “brochureware,” tend to talk a lot about themselves, informing the visitor to the site of everything they ever wanted to know–and more–about the organization. These sites are difficult to navigate, and the visitor often finds themselves in a dead end spot that is hard to leave, or loses track of where they were, and they end up hitting the “back button” repeatedly to escape. The pages themselves on these sites are crammed with lots of verbiage, narrative prose content, and not much white space or images. It’s usually difficult to determine how the visitor can communicate with the organization–because they really aren’t that interested in hearing from you. These sites are called ‘brochureware” because most of them are just the organization’s marketing brochure copied and pasted on to a website.
Effective Websites are designed and built for the people who will be using them.
It takes more effort to design and build a site that anticipates the needs of the people who will be using the site. You can’t just copy your print media and slam it up there. You have to think of how the users will perceive the page, and what the will want to do, how they will want to navigate. When you get on a site that has been well-designed, you can feel it right away. We call this “intuitive”—
Is it easy to understand, easy to move around? Are things where you expect them to be? If so, it’s because somebody paid attention to those factors when they designed the site and loaded the content. One new site that manages to present a huge amount of information and functionality in a very attractive, appealing, intuitive, user-friendly site is www.boyertownpa.org, the website for the Building a Better Boyertown organization.Building a Better Boyertown (BBB) is a non-profit organization formed in 2002. BBB staff and volunteers develop and accomplish tasks that maintain Boyertown’s historical heritage, promote downtown Boyertown, and attract people to the community. Many people, from BBB Board members to downtown merchants and visitors rely on the site for timely information about news, events, and meetings.
As you will see when you visit the site, each page contains lots of information, displayed in an easy -to-see and understand format. Special care was taken in the design of the interactive calendar, because so many different constituents use it. The site is also designed to make it easy for local businesses and organizations to add and update their information on the site.
Care was also taken to make the donation function clear and easy to use. This site was designed for the people who need to use it. As a result, information will be updated in a timely fashion, and people will enjoy accessing the site for information they need. Because lots of thought and hard work went into the design, using the site will require less work and generate satisfaction, rather than frustration.