The New Interface: Dynamic websites
If you want a website or internet presence, there is no shortage of technical skills in Namibia. There are numerous companies and script kiddies who offer varying degrees of web presence, from sophisticated sites to plain HTML.
The real lack lies in use of the web, and the superficial skills which govern and maintain its use in terms of the brand. Yet the most noticeable comment on selling a website is, ‘it is so simple, even your secretary can update it’. This is not the case, ever.
The website falls within several corporate ambits, depending on its goals. If it is to be anything more than brochure ware, it has to offer the sort of utility that draws people to it again and again. If it is not extremely relevant, useful and popular, people will visit the site once, and the new toy will ultimately have no value.
To illustrate this point, consider the typical communications effort of the larger organisation. Advertisements are developed on a regular basis and placed on radio, television and in print. Press releases are issued regularly. All of the mediums used are those that contain content which draw people to themselves.
The typical business website is developed once and then updated annually, or whenever it is remembered. If it does have content this will typically be press releases. What sort of a person repeatedly goes to a website to spend a thrilling evening reading press releases and corporate material? Even an employee who did this would be questionable.
In order to make the website work, it will need corporate commitment and understanding at the upper levels of the corporation, as the process is relatively complex and will require some reorganisation of corporate communication resources.
The brand manager must be involved, and must be able to provide a clear understanding of the market, what news or content will draw the market to the site ass well as that news or contents’ relationship to the brand.
Evidently, the design or advertising agency will have to be involved in order to draw users to the site. Typically, site traffic is boosted by advertising the site and its contents. And this will generally require more than a passing reference to the site’s URL in advertising.
The content will have to be updated regularly drawing from a variety of sources, so this will require a dedicated internal or outsourced resource, which should also be employed on a newsletter.
Any response mechanisms will have to be watched for required reactions.
Taking it a step further, if the site is to have internal utility, for instance as a file silo or an area of online productivity, the various people involved in shaping and managing productivity and related processes will also have to be involved, and understand the processes, benefits and complications.
If transactions are envisaged, then obviously the accounting function will come into play.
And then there are the basic technical skills that will need to be employed, including adding content, maintaining the mailing list and cleaning it of forum spammers, as well as search engine listings and optimisation. In terms of adding content, a quick, easy course in the basics of HTML is advisable. Easy tutorials, can be found online.
The most difficult point in the learning curve will be overcoming the fear of learning basic HTML. Actually, it is quite easy. The second most difficult point will be convincing the advertising agency to adapt.
The logical place to put the website is under the PR, as this person is typically responsible for ongoing content-driven communication. If there is a large component of internal site usage, the probable person is the corporate affairs function at a senior level, with the power to marshal corporate resources.
All that being said, it boils down to corporate will and a learning curve. Everything else can become routine.