Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thinking About How To Build Great Web Stuff

I've been charged with figuring out a bunch of web stuff for my new job. The position I occupy didn't exist before, and there is quite a backlog of dusty sites that need to really do something much more than they are. Once I can kick out the jams on some basic needs (an intranet! functional online giving that we can make changes to without waiting six weeks for an over-committed central programmer to get to it! other duties as assigned!), I'll be focusing on some more epistemological web service issues.

There are ideas bubbling in my head about what we should be striving to achieve with our online offerings, but then I read this at Seth Godin's blog, and darn it if he hasn't completely hit the nail on the head. As usual.

Data, Stories, Products (services), Interactions, Connection

This is what a website that seeks to make a meaningful philanthropic experience should have. All five, on every page. We tend to think of stories -- Little Janie's life was saved by the research at Hospital X -- and products -- The ever popular and always stultifying Ways To Give section -- and miss opportunities to do more. We also tend to understand data as something that we may use in private to govern our interaction with individual donors, but turning it around to drive what we put on our website is something we might feel less comfortable with. Non-profit site design often turns into everyone-gets-a-top-level-menu-item exercise, rather than featuring the six programs or causes that garner the lion's share of giving.

If we're doing a good job understanding our data, we would understand that those six programs are our "brand". They're what our donors come to us to support because they recognize us as a leader in those areas, a good place to invest their hopes for a better future, and their money.

Interactions? We tend to just try and get people to call us or email us, because we're focused on major gift fundraising, and nobody gives a million dollars on the web. Except when they give you $5,000 on the web and see how you handle it before they deepen their relationship with you.

Connection is a struggle -- figuring out how we can make that connection deep and meaningful through a lukewarm medium like the web. I don't know.

I need to think more about this, but it makes my brain start to race.

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