Web sites need information and organization

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 05/15/2008 - 07:41

I recently had to do some research work and had to visit about a dozen Web community and higher ed Web sites. The higher ed sites were community colleges and small four year colleges. Uniformly, all the sites were quite bad. Basic information like street addresses and phone number were either missing or hard to find. Different parts of the sites looked different and had different navigation buttons in different locations. Many pages with the right titles lacked useful information in the body of the page.

The community sites often had very little information about the community. Many of them simply had a few links to other sites, like local government and tourism. So it was actually quite difficult to learn anything useful about the communities from the community Web site.

Search engines index and rate sites based on the kind and type of information on the site, and ignore images. While good graphic design is important for the user experience, it is not enough. Web sites today are a primary marketing tool for organizations and communities, and yet, based on my experience, many well-funded organizations and communities spend little or nothing on what could be their best marketing tool. Communities that will quickly spend tens of thousands of dollars on color brochures are reluctant to spend a few thousand dollars on a high quality Web site that has a worldwide reach.

Most early business relocation research is now done via the Web, and if your community does not have a cluster of well-designed sites--community portal, K12 schools, higher ed, tourism, economic development, community groups--your business attraction efforts may falter.

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