The last week! I have to say that by this point I can see why every blog I read has guest contributors. I have to come up with another creative idea for a post?….again?…….already? But once I began applying myself to the content for this week, I began to realize that the website is really the home-base, mothership, dumping ground and beating (digital) heart of an organization. And as such it integrates all the concepts that we have learned about over the 6 weeks of Digital Innovation and Social Media for Public Health, making them accessible and available to the audience of your choice. How you decide to arrange these tools on your site, and what kind of content is included determines how your organization is seen by the digital world as a whole. With that in mind, I will revisit that last 6 weeks in the context of website development and design.
Week 1: Blogging
From my explorations of good educational and collaborative websites, it seemed that organizations that value communication and giving their organization a human face tend to promote their blogs prominently on the web pages, sometimes using up most of the real estate on the main page with links. This has the advantage of using large attractive photographs to draw people in, without having to sacrifice on the actual content that is then available on the blog page itself. This is a good way to get around the problem “of inundating our viewers with picture after picture, no matter how moving or beautiful they are, while sacrificing easy access to content” that Marjorie talks about in her post In Your Face Websites.
I thought the organization informED did a good job on their website at resolving this tension and attracting readers to important content:
Week 2: Social Networking
This is an easy one – if you want your audience to be able to follow you in all forms of digital media and more importantly to enable bidirectional communication, then your website must feature easy-to-locate clickable ways to be able to follow your organization on all the relevant social media sites. Here is a good example from Kiva.org
Week 3: Microblogging
Displaying your Twitter feed on your website is a good way to show visitors real-time news and events. In addition, an attractive Twitter widget can encourage your website’s audience to follow you on Twitter, serving as an additional method for expanding your network. Furthermore, when designed right, a Twitter feed can actually improve the aesthetics of a website’s layout. They can be fully incorporated into the page in a fun way like this from That Indie Dude:
Or act as a widget that bisects the featured content and subsequent content, as in the Sower of Seeds website.
For more ideas you can check out 20 Resources for Displaying Twitter Updates.
Week 4: Multimedia
If your organization goes to the trouble of producing a good video, it is vital that it is displayed prominently on your website. Not only do many people prefer to watch videos than read dense content, but engaging more visitors for longer on your website using video content in a really good way to increase your SEO, as detailed in “The importance of posting a video on your website for good SEO.”
I like how Camfed did this, as it linked to their PSA, which would also increase donations via the website:
Week 5: Mobile Technology
If this is an important part of your organization, it is vital that the link as to how to subscribe to any mobile campaign is featured prominently on your website. Text4baby does this well:
Week 6: Web Design
And finally, how do we synthesize all these elements into a coherent and aesthetically pleasing design? The most vital component I can see is the choice of color palette and the consistency with which the color and other design elements are used within and between the different pages of the website. This is determined by the kind of audience you wish to reach and the reason for the website. The classic Web 2.0 kind of website seems to favor a lot of white, open real-estate on each page and blue and green color palettes are popular, as is evidenced by many of the pages I have already featured, plus this one from the NIH:
In these websites the more detailed content is almost hidden in sub-pages so as not to upset the aesthetics with messy details.
In the health sector, however, there are many many websites that do not really make any attempt to be aesthetically pleasing! My feeling from many of these was that they catered mostly to physicians and academic health professionals for whom the most important consideration was direct, one-click accessibility to information.
And that is it….my take on how to integrate this course into your website! Whilst I have complained about the need to come up with a blog post each week, I have very much enjoyed doing them and reading everyone else’s contributions. Do I really still have to write the final exam??